Identity Theft has been referred to as the "invisible
assault", and I should know because unbeknownst to me,
a woman was able to steal my good name.
A little over two years ago, I was offered a free credit
report. My credit was perfect and I was expecting to receive
a report that reflected that. Imagine my surprise when my report
history came back 33 pages thick.
I assumed there must be some sort of mistake with the credit
agencies. Perhaps my name was mingled with another Michelle
Kane; I have heard of that happening. After all, I have always
been very careful with the use of my credit cards and Social
Security Number. Boy, was I wrong!
Unfortunately, the credit agencies were not mistaken. A woman
from Schenectady, New York had been using my Social Security
Number for approximately two years and had managed to charge
over $70,000 in my name. She stated out small, opening a few
credit cards, then gained more confidence obtaining a car loan
eventually a mortgage.
The perpetrator, who is also named Michelle Kane, said she
received the Social Security Number from a friend and thought
she was able to use it. However, investigators believe she
obtained it through her place of employment. She worked for
a vision company and had access to insurance company databases.
The Schenectady, New York Michelle Kane did get caught and
served a year in prison thanks to the fact investigators hired
by the mortgage company work so
Even though this woman went to jail, the task of clearing
my credit history still existed. The red tape and the jumping
though hoops started from the very beginning. The first step
of reporting the crime was not very simple. I first called
the Schenectady Police Department and they were unable to do
anything unless I filed a police report in person. I then called
my local police department they were unable to do much because
it was not in their jurisdiction.
It did not get any easier with the three credit agencies (Transunion,
Experian and Equifax). They sent the information, but it was
up to me to decipher it. The agencies listed the creditors,
however many times just as an abbreviation. One of the biggest
hassles was getting a phone number to the bank. Sometimes it
was listed and sometimes it was not. To get a phone number
that was a 1-800 number that corresponded to the correct department
in the bank was a rarity. I.e., My husband and I spent countless
hours trying to contact Verizon NE. No one in the company knew
who this was; did NE stand for North East, New England, Nebraska?
Which division of Verizon was this; wireless, landline or
Aside from the financial burden of huge phone bills trying
to track down the banks, and the countless hours wasted trying
to sort though the red tape, the biggest problem is proving
your identity to the creditors and convincing them you didn't
make the charges.
Over two years have passed and I am hopeful that my credit
history will soon be cleared. I am hopeful that this does not
come back to haunt me. And I am hopeful that there will be
improvements for the rest of the victims out there.
My Suggestions for Improvement:
- Free yearly credit reports
- Transunion, Experian and Equifax list a local advocates
phone number on the
credit report. (Consumer Protection Number).
- Mandatory listing of all creditors' phone numbers that
appears on credit