“But you don’t understand…I didn’t take out this loan!”
In February, we received a call from a creditor about an outstanding loan that we had supposedly taken out. The problem was, that we hadn’t taken out any loans in several years.
As we looked into it deeper, we realized that someone had used my wife’s social, along with my cell number, and was able to secure an online pay-day loan. We’re pretty good at shredding all sensitive documents, so we’re not sure how this information was stolen.
We filed a police report, fought with the credit company, and got the case resolved. But in March, we received a call from another creditor. Turns out the little punk got a second online loan the same day as the first one by using our information.
We notified the credit bureaus immediately, and they flagged our account to watch for any new credit inquiries. All is well right?
Well, not so much.
In August, we checked our credit again. While my score looked great, Beth’s had dropped by over a hundred points! She went from the low 800′s to the high 600′s in a matter of 5-6 months. And you’ll be astounded at what happened.
At first, we assumed it was another incident of stolen identity, possibly a third online loan from the same creep that got the first two. But that wasn’t the case. Our credit was showing a past due amount on a $500 line of credit that was ten months overdue. I called the bank (Regions) listed on the credit report (they put the name and number right on the credit report), and here’s what we found.
Blast From The Past
The $500 line of credit was something Beth took out in college. When she finished school, she closed all of her accounts as she was moving out-of-state. We’re still not sure how this happened, but somehow this line of credit had an annual fee associated with it which just happened to get charged to her account (which she thought she had closed) last November.
In December, they started charging late fees, and by the time they reported it to the credit bureaus, it was after we had checked our credit due to the identity theft. So this baby kept right on snowballing until we caught in August.
Imagine that…a hundred point drop in her credit score. If we hadn’t checked our credit again we never would have known. My wife has a different phone number, different address, even a different last name than when she took out that line of credit. There’s no way they could have contacted her so the only way for us to catch it is by checking our credit.
Now if you’re able to pay cash for everything you don’t even need a credit score. But we’re considering buying a house soon so this could have been disastrous if we had not caught it when we did. Thankfully Regions bank blew me away with their customer service and they waived the fees, closed the account for us, and are in the process of notifying the credit bureaus. All in all it’s a happy ending.
My Two Take-Aways From This Experience
#1: Get Identity Theft Protection. We’re doing an overhaul right now on all of our insurance needs and are going to add this to our portfolio of protection. We’re probably going to go with Zander Insurance which is recommended by Dave Ramsey. I’ll keep you filled in on how it goes.
#2. Check Your Credit Report Yearly. This is free and can be done at www.annualcreditreport.com. Ramsey has a great article on How To Read Your Credit Report.
Comments: Have you had to deal with identity theft or had any surprises in your credit report?