Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stealing My Identity Isn't Just Illegal, It's Also Really Stupid

Today, while I was eating lunch between jobs, the mail came. Now this in itself is no shock, as the mail comes daily (except Sundays). I got the usual stack of bills. I opened one, unfolded it, and immediately marveled at the amount. "645 dollars?!" Then I read the top of the page, which informed me that my payday loan was past due.

Uh, what payday loan? I don't take out loans, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't take out a payday loan. I called the collection agency, and boy did I find out all kinds of neat stuff! First, the woman verified the last four of my social and my birthday. OK, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to get that information, right? Surely more is required for a loan of some kind. Turns out, more IS required, but this information apparently doesn't have to be even remotely related to the name and birthday.

Whoever took out this loan listed an employer and work address (Wal-Mart manager in Louisiana, by the way), home and cell phone numbers (both with a New Orleans area code), two references (yes, I now have their names and numbers), and, of course, the account number and routing number of where to send the money. And, you guessed it, I now have that information as well.

At this point, I'm furious, and also a bit perplexed as to how anyone using my social security number could possibly get a loan, even a payday loan. The woman at the collection agency was very helpful. She told me to contact the police, file a report, and then they would go from there. She also told me the loan was taken out on January 19, 2010. It went to collection on April 26, so it just barely missed being on the credit report I pulled for the bankruptcy. Which is another reason this was obviously not me - all of my debt is being taken care of in the bankruptcy. Also, I have never worked for Wal-Mart, and I've never lived in Louisiana. Hell, I've only been once, 10 years ago, because that's where we sailed from on the cruise.

I called the police, and after some phone tag, finally got through to make the report. I still have to call the New Orleans PD, because that is presumably where the crime was committed. But this isn't just a crime - it's an act of extreme stupidity. First off, I have absolutely horrific credit. My credit score is a sad face. Second, I'm going to catch you. I am well versed in my debt. If this had been a medical bill, then, yes, it's conceivable that one or two of those fell through the cracks, and I forgot about them. But this - an online payday loan in January (when my computer didn't even get Internet-ready again until April) - this is...wait for it...INCONCEIVABLE!

I looked up the customer service number for the Web site, and calling that woman was a complete waste of time. I told her that someone had fraudulently used my information to take out a loan, and I suppose I should have assumed that using words with more than two syllables would not go over well. She asked for my information, and then proceeded to say a lot of really stupid things.

"The address we have for you is the one you just gave me." OK, I know you're lying at this point, or, at least, I know you didn't have this address for me when the loan was taken out. First off, the collection agency mentioned nothing about an address being given, other than the Louisiana work address. They have my address because it's their job to track me down, and with a bankruptcy, it isn't that hard to do. But let's forget the obvious and get to my answer.

"I didn't live there in January." BOO-YAH! There is no way this person used my current address to take out a loan in January because I did not live at my current address in January. Ha! How do you like them apples?

I explained to the woman that I live in Tennessee, but the information used to get the loan (other than my social and birthday) was from a Louisiana area code, and, clearly, this was not me.

"We aren't authorized to give loans in Tennessee. It would have been denied."

OK, what part of "It wasn't me" is so hard to grasp? THE MONEY DIDN'T COME TO TENNESSEE! And, as you have already stated you cannot give loans in Tennessee, there is no possible way, according to you, that you could have had my address because then you would have known I was in Tennessee and would have denied me like a good little worker, right? RIGHT?!

"But it's weird that they would use all of your information."

IT'S NOT WEIRD AT ALL! IT'S FRAUD! That's the modus operandi of frauds! Jesus, lady, you work for a company that gives online payday loans. You can't possibly expect me to believe that this hasn't happened before.

I told her I had contacted the police and they would be in touch about it. Then I hung up because I don't possess the ability to jump through the phone and smack someone in the back of the head. But if I did have that ability, that is exactly what I would have done.

So now I wait. The Nashville police will turn it over to a detective, who will be in contact with New Orleans. I gave them the account number and routing numbers, as well as the phone numbers, so finding the person(s) should be fairly simple. And proving it was fraud is beyond easy. I hope the Web site tightens their security a bit. If they'll take a social security number of someone in one state who claims to have an employer in another, it's time to beef up the security. I assume this didn't require a state-issued ID or pay stubs or anything you should have to present before getting any kind of loan. And apparently the name on the bank account doesn't have to be at all related to the name on the loan. Well, that's reassuring.

Watch out, New Orleans! I will have my vengeance upon you! OK, probably not all of you, but at least one of you is in trouble. And, even though I have what I hope is your real telephone number, I have no powers that translate through a telephone, so I'll just let the cops handle this one. Oh, and I Googled the home number. It is definitely a landline in New Orleans, and I even got a nice picture of the residence, including the name of the street and the block. Those apples are even better now, aren't they?


Anonymous said...

Oh, honey bunch... because there wasn't already enough crap. Big hugs!

Wendy said...

My life should be a reality show. "Shit Happens." The past week alone was Emmy-worthy: car accident, concussion, waking up during a medical procedure, nasty second (or possible third) degree burn on my hand, identity theft.

Anonymous said...

I would not waste any more time with the collection agency or the loan business. Both are not in the business to be helpful or logical, but to stress people out into paying their debts. And if it was a fraudulent loan, then they just try to stress out the victim into paying to protect their credit. Just make a copy of the police report, mail it to them and enclose a nice letter than basically says "Fuck off!" and to not report it on your credit.