When ID Theft Becomes Real

Identity theft is on the rise. How do I know? Not because I searched online and found numerous sources quoting statistics that show the trend. No, I know because it happened to me. Our HR department reached out to me to let me know that they had received an unemployment claim from Texas Workforce under my name and social security number. I filed no unemployment claim because the credit union has not laid off employees during the pandemic.

Take Action

If you find out that you have become the victim of ID theft, take action and do it quickly. The credit union reported the unemployment fraud and I did the same by reaching out to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The next thing I did was to put a freeze on my credit because ID thieves love opening fraudulent loans. You can order a one year freeze online with Experian who will then notify the other credit bureaus. Since I use SavvyMoney in our digital banking system I was quite sure that nothing had been opened in my name because they send alerts anytime anything changes on my credit report but it is better to be safe than sorry.

More to do?

I was pretty proud of myself and thought that I’d done all I could. Then I remembered that one of the benefits of my Advantage Checking account is CyberScout ID theft resolution services. I called them and was assigned a fraud resolution specialist who worked with me to further protect my identity with additional steps that I’d never considered.

Your social security number isn’t just used to file for benefits and apply for loans. It is used for opening accounts where said benefits or loan proceeds are deposited. Most financial institutions use a system called ChexSystems for verification when opening savings and checking accounts. I was able to put a freeze on ChexSystems just like I was for my credit report. And just like I can get a class=”external” free credit report from all three credit bureaus, I can get a free annual FACTA report from ChexSystems which shows if my information has been used to open accounts. I also reported the ID Theft to the FTC so they can share the information with law enforcement.

Be proactive

I already had some of the tools I needed in place to be proactive. SavvyMoney is one example because I can view my report at any time and receive notifications when new loans are added. But beyond tools like that, we need to be more proactive in protecting our private information. I have no idea how an ID thief obtained my information, but you can be sure the next time I’m asked for sensitive information on an online form or in person I’ll be vigilant in making sure it is only being given to a reputable organization.

I’m hoping you don’t become a victim of identity theft but if you are one of the unlucky 10% of the population who this happens to on a yearly basis, hopefully you can learn some tips from my experience.


Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.