Monday, April 14, 2008

Identity theft is everywhere, even my home

My husband received a phone call a few days ago from Canadian Tire. They had received an application for a Canadian Tire card that just did not seem right. The lady who was to process it decided to contact the person whose name was on the application. She took the time to do some research and found our phone number, which was not the same one on the application, and called us.

Yes, someone filled out an application for a Canadian Tire card in my husband’s name. I have no idea what caused the lady at Canadian Tire stop and investigate this one application but I am glad that she did. You see my husband was not the person who did this, though he had applied about 4 months ago. It seems someone went into our mail box and took out the "I am sorry but we cannot give you a Canadian Tire card right now but you can reapply in 3 months" letter with the form to reapply. Someone did so, but used their own address and phone number. We have no idea who’s SIN # they used, but it was not my husbands.

We are so happy that the lady at Canadian Tire felt there was something off with this application and put the time into finding our phone number and contacting us. I know that we would have found out eventually that someone was using my husband’s name, but it much better to find out before they use it. The good thing is that this lady also reported this to the police. The person can be charged with attempted fraud against Canadian Tire. I don’t know what kind of punishment that will get them but at least something will be done, even if it is just a slap on the wrist.

We are going to be keeping an eye on both of our credit records for the next little while. I am sure if they tried at Canadian Tire, they have tried using his name and maybe mine for other things. We are not sure if they actually got our name from our mail, though that seems to be the most likely place. They could have just picked a name out of the phone book and picked up an application at Canadian Tire.

I guess it is a good thing that our credit is to the max right now. I doubt that anyone is going to give more credit under our names at this point in time. That may change as we lower are debt load, but we are going to continue to be very careful. If someone has tried it once, they will try again. I never thought I would be happy about being in debt, but I guess there is good in all things if you look hard enough. I am thinking about looking into the Identity Theft Shield provided by Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., or Lifelock, or a similar service provided one of the many companies that seem to be popping up everyday. Protecting people’s identity is turning into a booming business.

Here is one tip that might save you some money and time: Do not sign your credit cards, put please request photo ID this means that before someone can use your card they must provide photo ID showing that they are the same person that the card is made out to. The first thing you are going to be surprised about is how few people even notice that you have that and not your signature. They will just ring it through. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy knowing anyone can use your card and the cashers don’t even notice. Second this will not stop someone from getting fake photo ID made in your name, but it will slow him or her down, add another step to the process. Anything that makes it harder on a thief is a good idea. It may give you enough time to realize your card is gone and report it before they use it. I am not so fond of the automated card swipes showing up all over the place, now there is nothing to stop someone from clearing out your account. There is no one checking to make sure it is his or her card. I think this is just going to make it easer for thieves, and harder for us to prove we did not buy something.

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