I received a telephone call a month ago, from someone who said that she was from a credit card company. She asked about a credit card that she said that I had, from a company that I don’t have a credit card with. I hung up on her, because it sounded like a phishing scam.

A week later, I received a letter from the same company, telling me that I did have a credit card with that company, and that the account appeared to have been opened fraudulently in my name.

Uh-oh.
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I checked the telephone number on the letter, and it was a legitimate telephone number for that company. I made a call, and they were correct- someone had fraudulently opened a credit card account in my name.

Uh-oh.
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Have you ever been a victim if identity theft? It is fairly common. I have experienced it a couple of times. Unfortunately all that you need to open a credit card account is a social security number. Social security numbers are assigned for life, so once someone steals a social security number, it is easy to keep using it.

Think about how many places you have provided your social security number. Most major financial transactions require it (mortgage application, auto purchase). Most hospitals and physicians offices use it. Every credit card application requires it. Your social security number probably exists in a hundred different files.

We check our credit report periodically. You are allowed to request one credit report every year for free (it is the law). There are three credit reporting agencies, (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax). They all provide a report containing the same information. Make sure that all of the information on your report is correct.

By the way-the fraudulent credit card was cancelled, and nothing had been charged on the account, so the fraud-detection system worked that day.

Hal