ID theft?
June 13, 2012 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Paranonia or ID theft? How do I find out, who to report it to? Details inside.

I have an unusual first name, I am past 50 and have never met another person with this old fashioned name. I have always used a nickname except when legally neccessary. No one with my name is listed in the local phone book. I have lived in this small rural community for 15 years and have not met anyone with my name nor anyone who knows of someone with the same name.

A year or so ago I recieved a letter, by mail, that appeared to be from my insurance co. They said that my medical and personal info had been compromised. They offered X yrs of free ID protection with Debix, which is now All Clear ID Alert Network. It appears to be legit. On 6/1/12 an e-mail report came saying all is well.

Here is the list of things that are causing me concern, individually I would just blow them off but the list is growing and I don't believe in coincidences:
1. Few years back I called the electric co and they asked which account I was calling about, insisting I owned 2 properties. I don't.
2. A few years ago I picked up a prescription and the pharmicist called me by my full name, but used the wrong middle name. When I corrected him he snatched the bag out of my hand and gave a another one with the correct name.
3. A local stockbroker recently left me a message saying they could squeeze me in for an emergency appointment. I know nothing of stocks & bonds, absolutely nothing. But I do have an elderly friend who is
missing a very large amount of money that was in stocks & bonds. She now lives with a daughter who is accusing me and the ladies other friends of scamming her. But none of us even knew she had more than a Social Security check. I did call the stockbroker and they said it must have been a misdialed numberband were not forthcoming about this other person with my name.
4. Today I learned that my ATM/Debit card expired in April. The bank has always mailed the new one, that then it had to be activated. Only I bring in the mail, I live alone, it never arrived.
5. Over the last, year my personal & work computer accounts have been repeatedly hacked. Stuff like changing my passwords, putting false info on facebook, etc. My business is not conducted on line, no payments or anything with personal info, so no problem there.
6. In the late 70's my ID was stolen and used by a non-caucasion criminal. I am caucasion, non-criminal.
7. I do have an enemy who has caused me a lot of grief for years.. She is not mentally stable and has spent an incredible amount of time, money & energy trying to cause me trouble with everyone from the government to the grocer.
8. I live in a small rural community, with an astoundingly corrupt government and I really do not want anything to do with the sheriffs dept.

I will call the bank in the morning. What else should I do? If I report it to the authorities, who do I call? We only have the sherriff, see #7 and the state police to cover the county.

I googled the name and got a mere 38 results, none of them applicable.
Should I dig a bit more online? If so can you reccommend a site?
posted by misspat to Law & Government (13 answers total)
You can view your credit report online for free, I would suggest you start there.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:05 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need to do a credit check to see if any accounts have been opened in your name. You should use for that - you get one free check per year.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:07 PM on June 13, 2012

I see that you're in Florida. Florida's Attorney general's website has a page with identity theft resources. Start with that, I think. It includes links on how to check your credit.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:14 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you afford a private investigator? They can run all applicable checks and hunt down any real leads, for a fee.

Other than that, do your free credit reports and see the ID theft resource page linked above to decide if anything is awry.
posted by batmonkey at 6:16 PM on June 13, 2012

It's worth it to me to spend $99 a year to have a company like Lifelock monitor my credit and accounts. If they find anything, they do all the legwork to correct it.
posted by summerstorm at 8:28 PM on June 13, 2012

Beyond Google: You can search for yourself or similar combinations of your nickname and last name at and zabasearch. There's a good chance any fake identities will show up there, due to the data sources used. I would caution you that your name being rare doesn't mean there isn't somebody else out there with one that's similar.

I personally would discard 6) as anything that happened in the 70s is almost certainly technologically irrelevant.

7) is certainly a complication, but doesn't necessarily point to identity theft; still, Occam's Razor and the Gift of Fear rule (Gavin de Becker says his clients always know who is harassing them even if they deny it at first) suggest it's someone to be concerned about.

8) is a complication, to be sure, but I would take this as an opportunity to possibly build your social capital there by requiring them to treat you as a victim; it wouldn't hurt to have a deputy/detective on your side down the road.

5) is the real kicker for me. That is not normal. I've had sloppy security practices for years and rarely get hit.

4) of course is a potentially serious crime, and you need to follow up with the bank and credit reporting agencies to make sure that card never becomes usable.
posted by dhartung at 11:41 PM on June 13, 2012

Re 4, April is (in this context) a long time ago. Are there any dodgy transactions in the linked accounts? Any you can't remember but should/would if you had made them? Can you ask the issuer if it has been used, or any attempt made to validate it?

The card is probably the best opportunity you have to nail this question. If someone has intercepted it (or changed the address for the card - something else to check with the issuer), it becomes a fraud issue, and the issuer/bank/police will hopefully be able to track down and identify the person concerned.

Good luck.
posted by GeeEmm at 12:44 AM on June 14, 2012

Re: companies like Lifelock mentioned above

Do your homework! Lifelock, for one, was fined $12M by the FTC for deceptive business practices (Wired) for failing to secure customers' private data, among other things.

The company was well-known for its ads with the CEO advertising his SSN because he was so sure of their services. IIRC that also turns out badly, either not his SSN or it got used for identity theft anyway. (RTFA, I read it ages ago but the name jumped out at me in this post)
posted by whatzit at 3:17 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Preventing password cracking is easy and certainly something you should do. It may be closing a stable door after a horse has bolted, but you will probably need to keep more horses in there at some point.
posted by flabdablet at 4:13 AM on June 14, 2012

I've lived in rural areas too and have found that the state police are much more competent than the local sheriff's department. Here's a link to the Florida attorney general's office with info on what to do. I hope something on that page solves your problem.
posted by mareli at 5:51 AM on June 14, 2012

Thank you for all the great answers. I have sent for credit report, talked to bank, and called the Attorney Generals office. My password is always a made up word with some caps & some numbers. For example: pAssda34tatas, can I do better then this? At the sites mentioned by dhartung I found 6 ladies with my name and everyone of them is over 90 yrs old.
Thanks for your help
posted by misspat at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2012

My sister had her yahoo account compromised. We were able to look at recent logins. She was freaked out by the ones in Japan, obviously the person using her account to spam. Gmail and other mail services can do this, as well. You can also set up 2 factor authentication, so that Gmail will send a text to your phone with an extra key for login.

Set up a google alert for your name and its variants, if any. It might capture things like a deed registration.

I think you need someone like a private detective to research this. Maybe you could post it to jobs.metafilter, and get good help affordably.
posted by theora55 at 12:03 PM on June 14, 2012

For example: pAssda34tatas, can I do better then this?

Yes you can and yes you should.
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 PM on June 14, 2012

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