How do I prevent further identity theft?
December 29, 2009 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Someone tried to withdraw money from my bank account. Again. How do I prevent this from recurring?

A couple of months ago someone walked into a local branch of my bank and tried to withdraw $1000. The person had a driver's license and credit card in my name. The branch manager was suspicious and confiscated the license and card and called me. I closed the account, opened a new account, put fraud alerts on the new account and at the three credit reporting bureaus and hoped that was the end.

Yesterday, I got another call from a different branch of my bank saying the same thing had happened again. The person trying to withdraw money knew the new account number and again had a driver's license in my name. I'm doing the same process over again but am wondering what else I should do to try and prevent this in the future.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have documentation confirming both instances of a breach in your bank's security?

I would send a letter to the bank's senior management and its board of directors and CC your bank's regulatory body and demand answers.
posted by dfriedman at 9:47 AM on December 29, 2009

Is it the same person?
posted by onhazier at 9:54 AM on December 29, 2009

I would try to find out how this information is getting out and plug up that hole. I would also look at how you receive (physical mail, online) your bank statements/other financial information and how secure that delivery method is. Also, how are you storing the information you have - locked in a box, out in a desk, on a computer in an easily accessed location, etc.

If your own security is flawless, I would consider changing banks (not that I see any particular problem from with the bank with what you described, just that your new account number had to get to the fraudster somehow, and if not from your end then it has to be from theirs).
posted by KAS at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2009

Have you changed the passwords for any/all online banking things? This could explain where they're getting the account number.
posted by brainmouse at 10:01 AM on December 29, 2009

Uhm, dfriedman, the bank's security worked in both cases. There was no "breach."
Somebody's using anonymous' identity to obtain a drivers' license, the problem apparently is at the DMV. Or else someone just happens to share a name with anonymous, and is using that fact to attempt a scam.
posted by Floydd at 10:03 AM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Is law enforcement involved? The very first thing I would do is call the police. In my experience, they take this pretty seriously.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:05 AM on December 29, 2009

Someone used just the account information that appears on my checks to pay their monthly cell phone bill. The bank (HSBC) refunded me about $700, but despite the fact that the phone number was on the bills did not investigate because they ignore anything under $1000.

The security manager did say this though, "I can tell you with reasonable certainty that it will be a person you know."
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:15 AM on December 29, 2009

The bank confiscated the ID, but did they show it to you? Presumably the photo on the license would need to be them instead of you. The next step after that might be to contact the DMV and find out if the license is "real" (i.e. not counterfeit/altered) and how it was obtained. Walk back the cat, as they say. Somebody must have access to something like a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship/residency and/or identity, depending on (if this is in the US) state laws and compliance with the federal Real ID act. But then, that would be if the police are not interested in doing this legwork.
posted by dhartung at 10:21 AM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

You need to call the police.

This whole situation is fishy and weird. Someone walked into your bank with an ID and credit card in your name and tried to withdraw a large sum of money. Something about this made the bank employee suspicious enough to confiscate the person's ID and call you directly but, unless you failed to mention it, the bank employee did not call the police. That doesn't make sense to me.

What credit card did the scammer have in your name? Are you a customer of the credit card company that issues it? If so, the breach could've occurred at the company, at your mailbox, or even at a retailer with a dishonest employee.

You need to file a police report about this and, heaven forbid it does keep happening, continue filing reports for each instance. Keep careful tack of all paperwork involved in this process, (including the placing of fraud alerts, notes about conversations with bank employees, dates, etc.) If the thief makes purchases in your name or manages to withdraw money from your account at some point, you may need this evidence to ensure that you're not on the hook for any portion of the money.

Again, call the cops and file a police report. If the police haven't already spoken with the bank employees who contacted you, ask them to do so, (particularly if the first employee didn't call the police him or herself).

Also, don't banks have security cameras? Did the fraudster appear on any of them?
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Call the police, file a report.

Call the DMV with the police report, get a new driver's license number.

Change all of your online passwords to something ridiculously difficult to guess.

The odds are it is someone you know, and someone with access to your files/computer/records. Ask the bank manager if there's any way you can see the security tapes to see if you recognize the person. You may have to lawyer up for that, though.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2009

The real question is how someone is gaining access to your account number.
at the bank
from a check you've paid someone
from your mail
online at your bank's website

If this is happening at the bank, then ask if there are other recent instances of this problem.

Take a look at who you've written checks to. Stop writing checks if possible. Again, pay bills online if possible.

Have you noticed that your mail is being opened? The post office actually gets quite upset when this happens. File a report and start paying your bills online.

If your online account has been compromised, contact the fraud division of the bank that deals with this and change all passwords to something highly secure.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:47 AM on December 29, 2009

Ask the bank if they can put a note on your account to ask you a security question every time you try to withdraw money. Make it easy for you to remember but impossible for anyone to guess. Never write it down. Never divulge this information on social networking sites ("I once had a cat named Fluffy"). Don't make it something that could be easily figured out or narrowed down (city of birth, first country visited, mother's maiden name).

Last name of your first crush
Second grade teacher (first grade seems to be a common question online)
Best friend's street name in 10th grade
posted by desjardins at 11:17 AM on December 29, 2009

The real question is how someone is gaining access to your account number.
at the bank
from a check you've paid someone
from your mail
online at your bank's website

from your trash can.
from your home.fl

Do you shred all physical mail from your bank, etc. before throwing it away? Do you file it somewhere in your home?
If you're not shredding it they could be getting it out of your trash (this would be my #1 suspicion).
If you are keeping the info in your home, for example in a filing cabinet in your home office, then you need to look at family members and any service personnel who have been in your home - cable repair, cleaning service, etc.
posted by Billegible at 1:09 PM on December 29, 2009

Thank the bank for protecting your account so well. It's their job, but not all banks do it well. Ask them for assistance dealing with this problem, and also ask them to jointly report this to the police. They may have surveillance video. Whoever is doing this is probably doing it at other banks and to other people. Be really polite, but insist that this be taken very seriously.
posted by theora55 at 3:16 PM on December 29, 2009

Another thing to think about (in addition to the above): has your Social Security number been compromised in some way?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:44 PM on December 29, 2009

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