My wallet was stolen -- how do I protect myself against ID theft?
November 7, 2004 7:48 PM   Subscribe

My wallet was stolen -- how do I protect myself against ID theft?

I was in NYC most of last week and my wallet was stolen while there. In it were my DL, a couple of credit cards, and unfortunately, medical insurance cards that used my SS# as an ID number. The cards are cancelled, I filed a police report, and I’m going through the tedious process tomorrow of reconstructing my wallet’s contents. I’m hoping against hope that all they wanted was the cash, but I can’t safely assume that. Are there any processes that I can initiate to flag my name and information as a potential victim for ID theft before anything happens? Or will that only create more trouble for ME with credit transactions? I would really appreciate specific advice from people to whom this has happened or who work in this area. I don’t want to get this wrong.
posted by melissa may to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Federal Trade Commission: "What to Do If Your Identity is Stolen"

Call 1-877-IDTHEFT and talk to them -- it's a service of the FTC.
posted by waldo at 9:07 PM on November 7, 2004

That page says "Tell them to flag your file with a fraud alert including a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name.".

Is there any possible reason not to do this anyway? Why on earth would you want people to be able to open new accounts without your permission?
posted by Caviar at 11:04 AM on November 8, 2004

In addition to flaggin your accounts, call all your financial account issuers and have a password, (other than your mother's maiden name) placed on each for any and all access.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:12 AM on November 8, 2004

Yeah, passwords on your account are useless - they're not part of the protocol they understand. I have set passwords on my accounts, and successfully convinced the person on the other side of the line that I was who I said I was even though I didn't remember the password. If you provide enough other information, they'll believe you - after all, the trust basis for the account itself is pretty thin.
posted by Caviar at 1:14 PM on November 8, 2004

Thanks to all of you who responded. FYI, I called the ID theft hotline and it's basically an automated message providing the same numbers and info on the website. Also, the automated system at Equifax states that all Big Three credit monitors would be informed at once when I filed a report with just them. They will also let me know in writing that this was done. That made me happy. I also went to my bank and they are flagging my accounts for any peculiarities, even though my checkbook and savings information wasn't in my wallet. I am paranoid right now.

Caviar, I'm asking the same question you are: why should anyone get to open a credit line w/o a notification to your address and validation in writing first? If you need a line of credit so damn fast, can't you get it at your bank if you have a good credit history? It reminds me of that stupid Check 21 law, which my bank is advertising as a "convenience for faster transactions": thanks for taking a fascimile of a check as proof of transaction while slowing up my deposits, jackasses. Thanks, credit card companies, for letting someone open a line in my name worth thousands with a single phone call. That sounds really damn convenient for the bastards who robbed me, but not so much for me. After I get me first free report of the credit activity for the first 90 days after this happened, I'll have to sign up for one of those paid services that checks your credit every few months for a $10 (and up) monthly fee. Why the hell should I have to pay because these assholes make it as easy as possible for fraud to be committed in my name? I've opened three credit cards in my whole life -- I have exactly two now, one for a store and the other as my main line. I've had it since 1996. How hard is it to figure out that a sudden series of new accounts are likely fradulent?

Sorry for the rant, but I feel like I'm being pantsed by one company, then offered the protection service of having a screen placed over my ass by another, but they're both owned by the same company, Unlimited Pantsing Inc.
posted by melissa may at 7:49 PM on November 8, 2004

TheftFilter (Ooo! Ooo! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!)

Seriously, though, after following all of the info given up in my own TheftFilter answer, I've discovered the following:

1. Yep, those thiefy bastards will most DEFINITELY try to take out phoney credit in your name, at least twice.

2. "flag your file with a fraud alert including a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name" -- SEE #1.

3. At this point, yeah, you're pretty much at the mercy of the stupid banks/credit bureaus. Check your credit report often. Fortunately, next year I believe a law goes into effect that makes the credit bureaus have to give you your report for free when you ask for it, instead of making you pay for your own information. (Can't find the link now, but we just discussed this in my Government Documents Reference class)
posted by 40 Watt at 8:35 PM on November 8, 2004

40 Watt, THANK YOU. I vaguely remembered that thread but when I googled AskMe for ID theft it didn't come up. I appreciate your help.

I am so paranoid right now, and pissed as hell. I can't believe how easy it is to be totally screwed over this way, even though this is such a common problem.
posted by melissa may at 10:53 PM on November 8, 2004

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