Monthly Archives: May 2008

Correcting the Easy Stuff is Almost Done

According to my student loan company, my name has been updated on my student loan account. They never notified me that they received my request update my account, so I logged into my account online, and there it was – my updated information. Hooray for small miracles. I figure I’ll give TransUnion a month, and then I’ll request the change to my name once again.

I called Experian to talk about my addresses. Each address on my report was assigned a code number. I had to deal with a computer, but I was able to dispute the addresses over the phone by punching in the code number assigned to the address. About 10 addresses were removed from my report, and Experian mailed me an updated report. There were about four addresses that it would not allow me to dispute with the automated phone system, so I will have to call back during regular business hours to speak to a person to see what’s going on with those. One of them is really odd – it’s not even a complete address – it’s just a city and state. A city that I’ve never lived in. I have no idea what’s going on there.

I know that there have been some attempts at fraud using my name and/or social security number. At a past job, the CEO hired a really sketchy guy to handle accounting and human resources. This man had access to our personal information and our bank account information on account of us having direct deposit. He pulled a lot of sketchy moves and finally disappeared after stealing a few thousand dollars out of petty cash and other accounts. I left that job before that whole situation was resolved, so I have no idea if he was ever found or if the case made it to court. I placed a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies and switched my bank account, and so far, nothing’s happened that could be traced back to this man.

However, this past November, I was reviewing my checking account online when I noticed a transaction for $500 that I didn’t recognize. I used my bank’s online customer service and sent them a message inquiring about the nature of that withdrawal. I never did receive a response to that inquiry. The next day, I logged into my account and there was *another* transaction for $500 along with several overdraft fees. Thus began an absolute circus of calls to the bank, waiting interminably on hold to speak to the one and only department at the bank that would discuss the case with me (minimum hold time 35-40 minutes before a person came on the line who was anything but helpful), filing police reports, and then being told by my bank that it would take them 4-6 months to investigate. The bank gave me information in little bits and pieces. The two transactions were actually ATM withdrawals – all the scarier, because someone had not only a clone of my debit card, but my PIN as well. My own research revealed that there were two likely culprits: using my debit card at the pay-at-the-pump at the gas station or using my debit card to pay at a restaurant, where the waiter/waitress takes you card and wanders off where you cannot see him/her to process the payment.

The take-away there is do not use your debit card to pay at the pump or to pay at a restaurant. It’s extremely difficult to get fraudulent charges on debit cards reversed, but credit cards are much easier to deal with. Pay inside at the gas station, or if you must, pay with your credit card. Pay cash at restaurants, or use a regular credit card instead of a debit card.

There was also a weird case a few years ago where someone must have gotten hold of just enough of my personal information to think they had a chance of getting some credit or something. Ex-employers and assorted family members started getting weird phone calls from women claiming to be “Mrs. Washington”, “Mrs. Jefferson”, and “Mrs. Monroe” saying they had to speak to me. Did the person on the phone know my address? Phone number? Social Security Number? “Mrs. Washington” even had the nerve to tell one family member that she needed the family member’s social security number to verify in her records that the phone call had happened. It was very strange, but everyone who got a phone call was smart about it and didn’t give out any of my information, nor any of their own either, and as far as I can tell, nothing came of it.

To make a long story short, some of these strange addresses on my report may have come from some of this crazy and fraudulent activity, as a previous commenter pointed out. All the more reason to keep tabs on your accounts and your credit report. The sooner you realize there’s a problem, the sooner you can take steps to get it fixed.