You guys have it all. My full government name. My social security number. My home and email addresses. My driver's license. Passport. Bank account info. Everything.
Ladies, gentlemen - you now have the keys. So what do you want to do with it?
Go apply for a mortgage. Open up a line of credit. Grab my tax return. Withdraw some funds from my checking account. Travel the world as Hadji. Better yet, dig into that Roth IRA and 401k I've been trying to grow. The possibilities are endless, and if you are creative enough - you could live the lifestyle you want on behalf of my own personal well-being.
I might as well walk around the streets draped with nothing on, flashing every bit of my flesh for the world to consume while I reveal the new tattoo on my right butt-cheek that reads "MY BODY IS YOURS."
How about THAT for an image?
Now that I have your attention, please consider the following:
Identity theft. It's real, and you probably have dealt with it one way or another. The magnitude of which varies from as minuscule as someone using your student ID to get discounts at a store, to as grand as destroying your credit which you have built up through the years.
The Equifax breach resulted in the exposure of over 145+ MILLION people's personally identifiable information (PII). That's 145+ MILLION penises and vaginas for the world to FCK! Mine included.
Last week, I took an L when an individual in Boston drained my checking account using a fraudulent check under my own PII. Without going into too much detail, I found a chargeback transaction that threw my account into a negative balance. The image of the check showed a forged signature, my social security number, and bank checking account. The routing number pointed to a Toronto Domain Bank. Very suspicious, indeed.
Upon discovery, I immediately contacted my bank to discuss. Do you know how a person sounds over the phone when they are naked and pissed, ready to fck sht up? Well, the representative on the other line does, but props to the customer service manager that helped diffuse my anger and unecessary rage.
PRO-TIP #1: escalate to a manager immediately, otherwise - your phone call will be driven by pathos rather than logos.
PRO-TIP #2: removing all emotions will help channel your energy to more focused and sound decision making
Although a refund is in the works, filing a claim does not rectify the fact that my PII is floating around for the public to consume.
HOWEVER, proactive measures can be taken to further contain the damages. This is when I woke up in beast mode.
Below is a checklist of steps to recovering from ID theft, in no particular order:
1. Check if you may have been impacted by the Equifax breach
2. Stop Stolen or fraudulent checks
Contact your financial institution
Ask them to stop payment on stolen checks and close (or freeze) your account
Contact any business that took the bad check. Explain that someone took your ID. Act fast, before they start collecting against you.
3. Report ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
complete the FTC's online complaint form and give as much detail as possible
4. Shop around for ID theft protection services
Zander Insurance (I chose this because it was cheaper + combined with Credit Karma. See #5)
5. Review your credit reports for fraud
Get your free reports from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion
Check out annualcreditreport.com or call 1.877.322.8228
Download Credit Karma. I haven't used it to its full potential, but it offers free credit scores, reports, and monitoring. More manual control, but worth it.
6. Consider placing credit freeze.
I froze all my shit, so the fraud alert was not necessary.
For credit freezes:
For fraud alerts:
7. Stop using checks and debit cards
This is my own opinion, but if you use credit cards in place of your debit cards, it adds an additional layer of protection from direct access to your primary checking account.
Just be responsible with the payments.
8. Close any compromised accounts, open a new account
This is the most time consuming, since alot of my utilities and loans are directly connected to my checking account.
Moving forward, I will probably migrate towards credit in paying for those loans online.
That's all I can think of for now, but if something comes across that I may have missed, I will update this post. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a live via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on social media.
For now, hope you guys have a blessed rest of your day/night. Protect ya neck!