Identity Theft (Someone bought a house in my name)

Identity Theft (Someone bought a house in my name)Today I have another blast from the past post about identity theft. The post was lost when I switched and I wanted to share it again! Nothing new has happened with this situation by the way but I do think it’s important enough to share again.

A couple of years ago I applied for a student loan and found out that I also had a mortgage. This was of course before I had my own mortgage. How could I “find out” that I already had a mortgage?

Someone had bought a house in my name when I was only 13. Yes, identity theft happened to me at such a young age!

It’s still on my record, but it doesn’t count against me somehow. I’ve asked where this house was and no one will tell me because of security reasons. Ridiculous! I would like to know where these horrible people are. I also wonder if they have kids (and I’m guessing they are stealing their kid’s identities as well).

I was told that someone probably got a hold of my social security number (most likely someone at a hospital or something) when I was in elementary school so there’s really nothing I can do besides monitor everything for the rest of my life.

Because of what happened, I am very strict about my information. Yes, I do put EVERYTHING on my credit card (to accumulate rewards points), but I’m careful with it.

And I also know the rules with what happens when someone steals your credit card information or your actual card, so that’s why I check all of my accounts everyday.

There are many ways that people can steal your information. They might take your mail, go through your garbage (and piece together mail that you shredded), spammy e-mails that take you to a similar looking website (with a similar looking url) but it’s actually fake, and of course MANY other ways. These people will do anything to get your information.

Well this post today is to help prevent any identity theft that could happen to you. Here’s how you can prevent identity theft:

 

Check your credit report.

This should be one of your first steps. If you’ve never checked it, then get on it! It’ll tell you everything about your financial life and you need to fix anything that is incorrect.

 

If you receive a suspicious phone call or e-mail…

Go to the company directly (either through their website, in person, or by e-mail). Tell the person that you’ll call the company back directly if you don’t believe them. There’s nothing wrong with being too safe.

I used to get phone calls all the time from someone pretending to be from my credit card. And one time my friend even gave HER CREDIT CARD NUMBER AND ALL OF HER INFORMATION to someone on the phone because she believed it was her bank. Well guess what? It wasn’t her bank…

 

When traveling…

Make sure you have someone checking in on your house. If mail or newspapers start building up, this tells thieves that you’re not home. Whenever we go out-of-town, I always have someone stop by (or stay at the house) and collect the mail. We also keep all of our cars in the driveway so that people think we’re home.

 

Check your financial accounts.

I overkill this and check it everyday. Yes, I’m insane but it has worked so far. One thing I would watch out for are suspicious $1 or other small amounts. This might be a thief charging something small just to see if the account works. Then they charge something HUGE!

 

Watch what you carry around with you.

I have a friend who carries her social security card where her license is supposed to be in her wallet. So whenever she opens her wallet, you immediately can see her name and SSN. I want to smack her in the head all the time!

Share any tips that you have!

Also, some facts that I found about identity theft. In 2009, there were 11.1 million identity theft victims. This equates to nearly $54 BILLION potentially being compromised. The average amount taken was roughly $5,000 per victim in 2009.

Have you ever been a victim of identity theft?

 

Comments

  1. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says

    What a crazy story! The craziest is that you can't even know where your house is… I would thought by going to a public registry and asking what is under your name they would oblige.
    My recent post Being Outside of Average

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Wow! I've never had my identity stolen, but have had someone somehow get my credit card and use it fraudulently. Thankfully the credit card company contacted me when they saw the activity and shut it off. My best friend in college had both his & his wife's identity stolen a few years ago and I remember it being a major headache for them.

  3. MoneySmartGuides says

    I've never had my identity stolen. I did have a scary moment though recently. I made a return at a store and they swiped my drivers license and asked me to verify the information was correct. The name and address that appeared was someone other than me. I became really nervous that someone stole my identity, so I checked my free credit reports and luckily there was nothing odd there. I also called the DMV in my state and they confirmed that the only thing on the "black stripe" on my license was what was on my license, name, address, etc. No Social Security numbers or anything like that. They couldn't tell me why it happened though.
    My recent post 5 More Ways To Prepare Your Home For The Winter

  4. Holly@ClubThrifty says

    What the hell? This is terrifying that someone is able to do this. I'm sorry that this happened to you but thanks for sharing. It is a great reminder that we all need to safeguard all of our information!!!

  5. Chloe Moon says

    That is insane!!! I can't believe someone would even be able to live themselves about doing that. It reminds me of that Friends episode when someone stole Monica's credit card and they followed the woman to a dance class…the life the 'fake' Monica was living was better and it opened up the 'real' Monica's eyes…but still…WOW!

    I used to get suspicious emails that I've had irregular activity on my credit card and then when I would call my credit card company they would be like "Uhhh we didn't send that…". It doesn't help that I'm a conspiracy theorist.

    Thanks for the reminder to be extra careful! =)

    Ergo – Blog

    My recent post Moving In Together…Excuses or Fear??

  6. Living Debt Free Rocks! says

    Unfortunately I've had my identity stolen. It was over 10 years ago and the person opened a bank account using my ID and committed fraud. It was a two year mess to sort out. Thank God I had filed a police report the moment after I discovered my wallet was stolen in a restaurant right out of my purse no less! Since then I put a flag on my credit file to be notified in case of any new account openings but I still do my own verifications by pulling my credit file every year and I monitor all of my banking and credit accounts daily.
    My recent post Death Is Inevitable So Plan For It

  7. @PlungedinDebt says

    Scary! I can relate. I discovered when we got our car loan 2 years ago that I had a delinquent student loan (they weren't paying it) on my credit report from a province I've never been to, in my MARRIED name and it was taken out when I was in the 10th grade…I'm STILL trying to get it off my report!

  8. missamanda101 says

    Back when Facebook was still new and you had to be a college student to get one, this guy made a fake Facebook account under my name. He added all my friends, telling them I was closing my old one, and then proceeded to harass them all, posting very rude and hurtful things. I was out of town for Christmas, and had no idea any of this was going on for over a week.

    I know it's not the same as a stolen credit card, or loan being opened in my name, but it was AWFUL. Even now 6 or 7 years later, I'm extremely uncomfortable using my last name anywhere online, and I regularly monitor what information about me is Google-able.
    My recent post Have you ever complained to a company just to get free stuff?

  9. Tanner says

    I remember this post from way back, and I'm still irritated they wouldnt give you "YOUR" house address. I mean, it is yours. I'd be so ticked off… But glad that's been sorted out and in the past. I can't say I've been a victim (ok, unless you want to count the credit cards my mother has opened in my name), but I too check ALL of my accounts at least twice daily. Trying to stop doing that, but I know the minute something gets charged to my credit card or bank account. I'm also a bit more careful checking my credit reports, and stagger them so I can check one every 4 months instead of checking all 3 at one time.
    My recent post Shopping can get expensive

  10. Brian says

    Were they at least keeping their mortgage up to date?

    Thankfully I haven't been a victim of idenity theft, which is amazing considering I threw my entire wallet away at a grocery store once. I guess no one found it since I was able to cancel my CC's and bank card with no charges on them. The hardest part was getting a new Driver's license, but that's because someone at the BMW misinformed me on what I needed to bring to prove my identity.

  11. therandompath says

    Oh my gosh, that's awful Michelle!! I can't even imagine!

    I am so vigilant about shredding anything that has any of our info on it. I make sure it is in a million pieces. Just shredding isn't enough. Like you said, these identity thieves put together shredded pieces.
    My recent post I’m Never Going To Be a Bond Girl

  12. Matthew Allen says

    I have never been a victim and I really don’t even worry about it as much as I probably should. My shredder is the only thing I use to safeguard my identity.

    One tactic I’ve heard of is that thieves will take a picture of your credit or debit card while you are swiping it in a checkout lane. They can later zoom in on that photo and get your card number and expiration date. So be careful when you see that person in line behind you seemingly looking at their phone!

  13. SavvyFinancialLatina says

    One of my coworkers got his debit card number and pin stolen. They racked up $11,000 charges overnight. Now I now never to use debit and input my pin. Apparently there are shadow codes that can steal all that information. :(
    Never really knew that.

  14. Veronica Hill says

    I have to be completely honest with you, I never think about identity theft! Yes, I'm probably an idiot for ignoring it seeing what kind of crap can happen just based on your personal experience, but it's so hard to think about identity theft when there are so many things going on in life! Thank you for your tips and I'm sorry something like that had to happen to you in order for us to learn from it.

  15. Anne_UGifter says

    Yikes! My spouse's boss has had this happen as well, several years ago. He shared some really interesting tips on selecting passwords (of course, I've not implemented any of them). Maybe two weeks later I heard someone on the radio talking about making secure passwords and she didn't even come close to the info that my spouse's boss knew!

  16. Frugalista Married says

    You'd think those people should be punished. They know where the house is. Go get 'em. That's crazy. I'm glad it's not hurting you but it still sucks. I've been the victim of fraud but nothing that major. Just credit card charges that weren't mine.

  17. Bill says

    Wow this is just nuts!

    A lot has changed now so it would be really hard to buy a house with someone's information today. Still I don't see why people couldn't open new credit card accounts or bank accounts or whatever, really. Sorry to hear this happened to you but I'm sure they must have thought it ridiculous later when they saw a 13 year old buy a house.
    My recent post Why You Should Refinance a Car Loan at a Lower Rate

  18. studentdebtsurvivor says

    Crazy! but probably happens more then most people would think. Thankfully I've never had my identity stolen, but I have had my paypal and credit cards used by unauthorized users. Both times the companies straighten things out, but it was a huge hassle and I felt really violated. I'm sorry to hear about your identity theft.
    My recent post The “Hidden” Cost of Condo Ownership

  19. Jordann says

    Identity theft sucks! My fiancé, while he didn't have his identity stolen, does have a doppelgänger with terrible credit, the same full name, and the same birthday. Banks always bring up the wrong credit report, it's so annoying! The first time that happened though, we thought it was identity theft and now we're super vigilant.
    My recent post The Classified Side Hustle

  20. mycanuckbuck says

    Nope, lucky so far! I do try to keep an eye on my records, shred things, get my financial report once a year, etc. But it so easy to be compromised…
    My recent post My stats for the month of November 2012

  21. Mandy@MoneyMasterMom says

    Wow, what a story. I can't believe they leave it on your record…. I guess it gives you merit if you need to prove your identity was previously hacked. Scary what info people can get their hands on.
    My recent post Net Worth is not your Self Worth

  22. Derek@freeat33 says

    I keep telling my wife to leave her SIN card at home….. I bet if I checked right now it's in her wallet
    My recent post How to combat inflation on your retirement income

  23. Canadianbudgetbinder says

    A great reminder. Some people will stop at nothing to get what they want even if that means ripping someone off or tarnishing their name or credit score. We check our credit score one per year to make sure everything is up to date and no weird charges or accounts pop up in our name. I would be devastated if that happened to us. So do they actually do anything about it? Mr.CBB
    My recent post Dollar Store Home Pregnancy Tests-Do They Work?

  24. Jason Clayton says

    That's about the craziest thing I've heard this week. Wow…

    Now I need to go get Life-lock before someone buys a 2nd house in my name.
    My recent post Great Reads of the Month (Monthly Roundup for November – 2nd Addition) + a video to bring in December with a smile

  25. Justin@TheFrugalPath says

    Identity thieves are always coming up with new schemes. It's not even safe to use them to put gas in your car and pay via CC because people can skim it from the machine. I've also heard of people stealing card information through wallets with phones.
    I'd say get your credit report and check it for anything funny. Also, don't carry every card you own at all times. If you have a target card only take it with you when you're going to target.
    My recent post Lottery is Not a Retirement Plan

  26. Alex says

    A great job here showing just how outrageous identity theft can actually be! Somebody buying a home with your name!! Really? The sad thing we see here is that when we go after the people that have stolen our identities, they are being protected for 'security reasons' . Protecting our identities has got to be a top priority and NEVER assume that it can't happen to you because it's the leading crime in the nation today and millions of people are affected by it every year. With criminals staying one step ahead of us in terms of technology (social media) we have to be on top of closely monitoring our credit as a way of life! Thanks for being here and good luck.

  27. Marta says

    I have the same issue with identity theft, I am currently a victim , Ive recently found out someone reused my credit to obtain bills under my former name. I am suspicious that they have used it to obtain a mortgage as well but Im not sure how to or where to check ? plz help

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