Print 19 comment(s) - last by KraftyOne.. on Apr 8 at 12:46 PM

To those of you who haven't had your identity stolen, just wait your turn!

I'd like to think that someone hacking my identity is another marker of the apocalypse, though the unfortunate reality of identity theft is instead just a game of statistics.

I obtained my first VISA at the ripe age of 17 (almost eight years ago for those playing at home) and found no reason to change the number even after several renewals.  Much to my surprise a company called Betamax VOIP charged me 82.25 a few days ago for starting new service in France.

Betamax, I would soon discover, is one of those low-brow operations that sort of exists, but sort of doesn't.  It clearly has some kind of voice-over-IP service, but you wouldn't know it from the postage stamp of a website -- which supposedly supports hundreds of thousands of customers. 

Betamax refused to give me more information about who opened the account, and I'm sure whoever obtained my credit card information to place a call was already long gone anyway.  However, since I didn't know my "security code" at Betamax, the company would not terminate the account.  VISA, on the other hand, took all of five seconds to reverse the charge and euthanize my elderly credit card.

Betamax it would seem has a few problems with fraud, as documented in early January on several voice-over-IP forums

A letter today also notified me that someone attempted to open a Capital One credit card in my name on the same day as the Beatamax charge. Capital One promptly and professionally complied with my request to send the fraudster's information to the FBI, and the card was terminated.  But what to do now that at least a considerable portion of my identity has been compromised?

I'll go out on a limb and call myself tech-savvy, especially when it comes to privacy.  My invoices are all kept on encrypted thumb drives, I don't use personal information on public terminals or public WiFi, and I've never purchased anything online from a vendor that didn't have immaculate credentials.  If I can get nailed with identity fraud, who can't?

Don't be alarmed, it's all statistics, as I said.  According to and my own paperwork, I used that particular card at 98 different ATM locations and 1143 separate vendors.  Chase had actually called me last week to let me know my card was being used suspiciously, though I was able to confirm all the charges.

Potentially, thousands of people have come in contact with the personal information on just that credit card. That's not frightening, but consider the fact that Oregon and Washington police peg identity theft as the current number one drug-related crime.  Identity theft makes the criminal world go 'round. 

Identity theft doesn't come at you like an atom bomb, as foretold by the admitdly hilarious commercial.  Stop and think about all the people that have detailed records of your residence, date of birth, frequent habits: our grocery store, cell phone company,  Dare I put Google in such a category?

There's a lot of data out there about you in the world. Although you should keep your guard up as much as possible, somewhere along the line someone will get your personal information.  We as a society are way past trying to prevent identity theft and much closer to realisitically coping with it when it occurs. 

My entrance into the the new caste of identity-less untouchables has been a mildly uneventful one so far.  Chase, VISA and Capital One have been extremely helpful -- and I'm not even a Capital One customer. 

For those joining me in the financial version of The Scarlet Letter, the best advice I can give you is to be calm. The credit companies are more than happy to work with you to fix as much as they can even if it takes days.   Please see the FTC's excellent identity theft help site if you feel you've been a victim of identity fraud.

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Spellcheck doing it's magic
By ninjit on 4/4/2008 2:36:39 PM , Rating: 5
For some reason, most of the words in your article (including the title) that should be " Identity " were changed to " Identify

Are you using MS Word?

RE: Spellcheck doing it's magic
By KristopherKubicki on 4/4/2008 3:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry about that. It's been corrected.

RE: Spellcheck doing it's magic
By wordsworm on 4/5/2008 5:22:24 AM , Rating: 4
Sorry about that. It's been corrected.

Does that mean you're not using MS Word anymore?

By KristopherKubicki on 4/5/2008 2:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
Can't it be both? :)

Living without Credit
By AmyM on 4/4/2008 5:45:40 PM , Rating: 4
I too learned about identity theft in the same manner, albeit my experience was much more severe. My husband always told me that credit was a double-edge sword, so after nearly five years I can comfortably say that I will worry no more: My family and I kicked the plastic to the curb. We rarely have more than 3 figures in our checking account, keeping it safely in savings until a transfer is needed. This enables us to limit the amount of financial risk when using our debit card. In addition, we signed up with one of those credit protection services that will call to verify when a new account is applied for.

If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all ears.

RE: Living without Credit
By spwrozek on 4/5/2008 12:49:34 AM , Rating: 2
Personally I cannot live in fear like that. I try to be safe but I am not going to run away and be scared of plastic.

Heck BP VISA is the greatest thing ever. 5% back on all my gas purchases....hell yes thank you! At current prices I am saving 18 cents a gallon. It adds up pretty quick.

By The Irish Patient on 4/7/2008 4:36:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Citibank's virtual credit cards.

You create a new virtual credit card each time you place an order online or by telephone with a new merchant. You can set the credit limit and expiration date for the virtual card, although the default is for a card with no limits. The virtual card can only be used by the first merchant you give the number to.

For example, I placed a first order with an online merchant yesterday. The invoice was $101. So I created a new virtual card with a credit limit of $125, not the $15,000 or so that the parent card is good for. Even if a dishonest employee steals the virtual number, it can only be used for purchases at that same merchant and only for the remaining balance of $24. I can increase the remaining credit limit to anything I want if/when I place another order with the merchant.

I never use the parent card anymore. Most of my purchases are online with the v-cards. Restaurants and such are all cash.

Its not just low-profile companies
By zozzlhandler on 4/4/2008 3:59:38 PM , Rating: 2
I recently had a charge on my credit card from Microsoft. I did not remember ordering anything from them, or getting tech support, so I called. Someone had got my number and opened an account. The problem was, that credit card had been replaced, and I couldn't remember the old number, so I could not give Microsoft the number used to open the account and they refused to cancel it! I also had to go to the credit card company to get things straightened out. There must be a better way to do this.

RE: Its not just low-profile companies
By Master Kenobi on 4/4/2008 4:21:17 PM , Rating: 3
As a credit card holder, it's your job to deal with your credit card company. They know how to handle this sort of thing. Calling the company the account is opened with will accomplish nothing since they can not confirm if you are the real card holder or not. Your credit card company however, can. Your making the incorrect choice as to who you deal with first.

By idconstruct on 4/5/2008 10:19:52 PM , Rating: 2

I work in customer service for the major sports apparel retailers (footlocker/champs/etc) and I get calls all the time from people trying to solve ID theft problems themselves... and there's quite simply nothing I can do with them. We can only deal with the card company.

credit monitoring services
By kattanna on 4/4/2008 2:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
i have been using the credit monitoring services of for 3 years now. Any time ANY inquiries or changes happen to my credit reports, i get notified within a day of it happening.

i really like the service as it also allows me to get free copies of my expedian credit report whenever i want.

nowadays, i feel its just one of those expenses we have to live with to better protect ourselves.

i myself havent had to deal with identity theft, but close friends and family have.

RE: credit monitoring services
By bodar on 4/4/2008 7:26:51 PM , Rating: 2
People should also consider freezing their credit if they don't plan on acquiring any new credit anytime soon. Many states allow you to freeze your credit for a small fee (up to $20) though in most cases, it is free if your ID has already been stolen.

Check the list of states here:

By KristopherKubicki on 4/6/2008 12:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
Awesome idea - first I've heard of it but definitely a great protective measure.

identity theft is the new hip
By tastyratz on 4/7/2008 8:43:53 AM , Rating: 3
its sad but its really true.
I tend to do almost all my shopping online and a mysterious charge showed up on my card from a website templates place for under 10 bux. Since I do so much online shopping I assumed it was something I purchased online and payed no attention.
A month or so later on received a phone call from visa telling me about this charge and how that name was used with a lot of compromised cards.

Note to other people if you get a call from the visa fraud dept your going to want to hang up on them because you are going to swear THEY are the fraudsters.

The call I received was a recording telling me my "banking debit and/or debit card from my financial institution may or may not have been used in an unauthorized charge and to call xxyy#"

Just google the caller ID # and you can see if its legit.

Useful contacts
By crystal clear on 4/6/2008 8:06:01 AM , Rating: 2
For those interested-

The 2007 Internet Crime Complaint Report

National White Collar Crime Center.

Laughing Man
By nugundam93 on 4/7/2008 1:21:40 AM , Rating: 2
Nice to see a reference to the Laughing Man from Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex 1st gig. d:)

Identify theft
By wa3fkg on 4/7/2008 1:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry but this is one of my pet peeves. It really irritates me that everyone runs around worrying about having their identity stolen or worse yet paying some third party for a service to keep it "safe".

If someone steals a check from me or prints one of his own and cashes it there is no problem for me. The person who accepted the check is on the hook for it, end of discussion. I don't see why I should have to expend my time and effort to demonstraight that the charges someone ran up with just a number are not mine. The burden of proof should be on the vendor who accepted the information. This is especially true of those that open a new account without any proof of who they are dealing with. I guess that I have been lucky in that I have never had a bad experience with a credit card although I agree it is probably a matter of when not if.

It just seems to me that the entire system runs a little lose when you can have this much fraud and cause so much grief for so many people.

ID Theft Monitoring
By KraftyOne on 4/8/2008 12:46:42 PM , Rating: 2
I appreciate the guy who talked about credit monitoring...but most of those services don't go far enough. Unfortunately, most of what we hear about that is called "Identity Theft" falls into one portion of ID Theft called Financial ID Theft. This (according to the FTC) is only about 27% of the problem. The rest of the problem is Social Security ID Theft (someone buys a house/car in your name or gets a job and doesn't pay taxes), Criminal ID Theft (someone commits a crime, like a DUI, and it goes on your record), and Medical ID Theft (someone uses your ID for medical treatment and it goes in your record...affecting your insurance and future treatments). These are the real dangers of ID Theft.

I'm biased...I know...because I happen to market the only service (that I know of) that offers help before, during and after ID Theft occurs in all five areas of ID Theft...but these are major issues that people are increasingly dealing with. As the economy gets worse, these problems are going to get worse too.

Good luck with your ID Theft issues Kristopher!

High quality Q/A from DT
By blwest on 4/5/08, Rating: -1
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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