Getting My Identity Stolen Wasn’t on My To-Do List!
When you get a letter from the IRS – it’s either really great news, like your refund has arrived – or it’s really bad news, like your identity has been stolen. Unfortunately – my letter informed me of the latter.
How Could This Happen?
The truth is – it could happen to anyone. My wallet wasn’t stolen but somehow my information got leaked. Someone could have phished my information off the Internet, or picked it out of my garbage — the possibilities are endless.
So this is how I spent most of my Saturday:
- Getting an updated credit report to make sure there was no suspicious activity or an unexpected Credit Reference listed on the history
- Looking for ways to remove derogatory items from your credit report
- Purchasing a monitoring system so I will be notified if anyone tries to open a line of credit in my name
- Notifying the Federal Trade Commission
- Calling and waiting on hold for every credit card, bank account and financial company I’ve ever used to notify them that my information has been compromised
I still need to contact one more financial institution and call the IRS when their offices reopen. Not my idea of fun. But I did it – and surprisingly was very “zen” about the whole experience. I mean really, what can I do about it? Getting upset now isn’t going to help. So if this happens to you – my advice is to be patient and stay calm. These calls take a long time to do but it’s worth it.
How to Avoid Identity Theft
Here are some ways to avoid getting your identity stolen from the FTC:
- Don’t carry your social security card with you
- Be careful with your mail and shred personal documents before putting them in the trash
- Be aware of the information you share over the Internet
- Use intricate passwords on the Internet (try making your password an actually goal that you have and adding some numbers and uppercase letters to it. This way you’ll never forget it and be motivated to reach the goal each time you type it!)
- Don’t give out important information over the phone, Internet or in person unless you know the person is a trusted source
- Safeguard your wallet and purse wherever you go
- Keep important information in a safe place at home if you have repair people, cleaning staff or childcare support coming in and out on a regular basis
My husband went through this this spring, his was due to a gov’t disk being stolen from someone’s car (why someone would be allowed to have this taken out of a secured building is beyond me). We found out when we received an IRS check when we hadn’t even filed yet, then about 5 days afterwards they send a letter stating the bank refused the deposit so a check had to be mailed to us— a 1040EZ vs years of 1040 w/ a business attached — RED FLAG!!! The check was only in my husband’s name so he had to go through all that you did…we had to personally hand the IRS our return before they could go after this person, so we are guilty until proven innocent as they have to check out us and it will be about a yr before we get our refund. Why would we return a check for more than we have ever gotten and not be telling the truth? Doesn’t make sense! It doesn’t do any good to get angry but it sure is frustrating that someone can come in and turn your whole world upside down. Lucky for us, my husband works for a guy who’s wife is an IRS fraud investigator so she told him everything that we needed to do. I will def. print out your list for my file in case someone in the future goes through this. Thank you!
Hi Cheryl – so sorry you and your husband had to go thru all this! It is really frustrating but I think you have the right attitude! I’m lucky that more didn’t happen with my information – as far as I know anyway! I don’t know how my information was compromised but I’m very curious! Thanks for your comment and for reading the blog.
Sorry to hear this happened to you, Paula! It is scary how common a problem this is today. My cousin’s husband was the victim of identity theft – and it almost cost him nearly $200,000. Not surprised you were on top of it immediately! Thank you for sharing the reminders on how to do all we can to avoid the situation. I have to say buying a shredder a few years ago was one of the best purchases I made. (And there’s something cathartic about shredding all that paper!) Good luck with everything!
Thanks for the support Laura! It’s a scary thing but I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do so hopefully this won’t be an issue too much longer!