A Personal Experience with Identity Theft

Two weeks ago, someone gained access to our joint bank account through my wife’s login. We still don’t know and understand how. My wife uses an iPad a never uses public WIFI. Somehow the perpetrator was able to log in and change the password, email address and phone number. No notification was sent to the prior contact information alerting changes had been made. I’m not certain we will ever know what actually happened.

Once they gained access, they set up a new payee, initiated a payment/check and paid the additional fee to have the payment delivered overnight. The check was overnighted to an address in another state. Most likely, the payee was also someone whose identity had been stolen.

They also opened an account at a credit union and applied for at least one credit card.

Fortunately, we have identity theft protection through Aura. No, I am not a paid spokesperson. Aura texted my wife early in the morning, reporting suspicious activity. She was at the bank when they opened – they were able to stop payment on the fraudulent check. Aura also provided details on the new account activity, so we were able to alert the credit union.

While we have not lost any funds as yet, it’s stressful and a big waste of time. To date, I’d guess my wife has spent 20-25 hours, and we’re not done. All our accounts at that particular bank will be closed, and new accounts opened.

Lessons Learned

  • ·Identity theft protection is an option. I like Aura mainly because they have US-based support. https://buy.aura.com
  • ·It’s possible your current insurance coverage includes some level of ID theft protection. Check the policy or contact your agent.
  •  Consider freezing your credit. It’s a minor inconvenience when applying for new accounts, but it makes it much harder for someone to open a new credit account in your name. Best of all, freezing your credit is free. https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/CreditBureauContacts
  • Using a proactive bank was a valuable asset. Our bank’s branch manager quickly assisted my wife in taking the best action.

Be sure to review last week’s post, as we outlined some additional steps you can take to safeguard your accounts and data.