Monday, August 7, 2017

Identity Theft

As if our lives weren't busy enough taking care of my disabled brother we find out that his identity has been stolen.  Someone has obtained his social security number and has either opened or attempted to open accounts in his name.  We filed a police report locally and notified all other agencies such as credit bureaus, government agencies etc.  

What surprised me was I thought he was pretty safe from identity theft since he doesn't use the internet or use credit cards but what the officer told us is that disabled people are particularly vulnerable.  He said that usually caregivers are not as vigilant about checking the mail or watching for suspicious financial activity.  He said that Mike is just the kind of person thieves want and that there are unfortunately a million ways to obtain someones personal information.

What alerted us was when we received a bill from T-Mobile stating that $140.00 was billed to a credit card in Mike's name in order to open a T-Mobile account.  Then the "thief" ordered 7 I-phones and had them shipped to my brother's old address.  The house was still vacant at the time.  I guess the thief just watched the house and picked up the phones after they were delivered. 

According to the police this is a common occurrence  with T-Mobile because they will open an account over the phone or on the internet not requiring proof of identity.

Anyway, we are knee deep in trying to control the damage.  Of course we don't want Mike to know anything about this because it would just set of his paranoia.  

We put a freeze on his credit to stop any further attempts to obtain credit in his name.  We have closed any accounts that were open.  The police dept. assured us that he would not be responsible for any fraudulent charges as long as we report it and provide them a case #. 

The positive side (if there is any) is that Mike's credit rating is not a concern.  He will not be using credit to purchase anything.  In fact he doesn't need credit at all.  What does worry me is that someone could use his information to receive medical care etc.  That kind of fraud maybe harder to correct and I don't want Mike's Medicare or SS payments compromised.

So, I guess you need to stay vigilant.  Open all your mail.  I would often just tear up anything from a Credit Card Company because I knew Mike wasn't using any credit cards.  I assumed they were all those applications they send offering 0% if you open an account.  You can't assume anything.    Read everything!   If I had assumed that the T-Mobile letter was just another advertisement we wouldn't have learned what happened.


Olga Hebert said...

OH, NO! It is a terrible thing when an identity is stolen, but to take advantage of of someone so vulnerable is triple terrible.

Florence said...

What a good thing you quickly caught it!!

Jean R. said...

That's really scary, to have your identity stolen like that.