At the Law Offices of Matthew Dubin we don't handle consumer debt. We don't do bankruptcy and we don't do identity theft. Today my story is not about a client or an injury. It's about me and how I was a victim of identity theft. It's also about how I took steps to protect myself, and how it could have been much worse.
First, I pay a small monthly fee for credit monitoring. I can't tell you enough how important and valuable this is. There are many different companies out there that offer credit monitoring. The one I use sends me an email alert any time there is a change to my credit profile on any of the three credit reporting bureaus.
On a Friday, I received an alert that there had been a new inquiry on my credit. I immediately followed up - first with the monitoring company, than with the credit bureau, and finally with the bank that made the inquiry. It turns out that someone with my information opened a credit account at a Sunglass Hut in Delaware and used it to purchase $2,000 in sunglasses.
The next Monday my inbox lit up with new inquiries, all in the Delaware, Philadelphia, Washington DC area. 7 inquiries and 7 new accounts.
It turns out that while you can dispute new accounts on your credit report, you cannot dispute inquiries - only the inquiring bank can do that. This means I had to contact 7 different credit card companies and make 7 different fraud reports. I filed an FTC and police report too. While time consuming, these won't do any good. The investigating officer told me the SPD won't even investigate identity theft unless it results in over $50,000 in losses.
Fortunately, thanks to my monitoring service, and with the help of my office staff, I was able to close all of the fraudulent accounts, initiate the investigations, and start taking steps to clean up my credit report. Even with all of my precautions, it will be months before the damage to my credit reports is repaired. I have placed a freeze on my credit, and no new accounts can be opened without my express approval.
If I had not had credit monitoring, it could have been months before I even realized I was a victim, and by then, the losses could have been huge. As it is, I will come out of this situation ok.
If you do not have credit monitoring, I urge you to do your research and subscribe now. It could mean the difference between inconvenience and disaster.