Adventures with Identity Theft – I was done!

Last year, I had my identity stolen. I figured I would share the story about it here, with the aim of possibly helping out anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation. It’s somewhat lengthy, so I’ll break it out into a few posts.

I was on holiday with the bloke and his family when it happened. Me being me, I was checking my online banking in the lull between doing holiday things, and found something somewhat worrying – I had an additional £10,000 in my bank account. It had been deposited the day before. To add to this fun, this was on a Friday before a bank holiday weekend. I wouldn’t be home until Saturday evening.

Now, normally, an additional surprise £10,000 would be something to celebrate, right? Not in this case. I knew that I wasn’t expecting such a windfall, no one in my immediate circle would be sending me that kind of cash, and I certainly hadn’t applied for anything that would give me that kind of cash.

I dug a bit deeper into my online banking, and found that a direct debit was set up to Hitachi Capital Finance for a loan. I was pretty concerned at this point. I attempted to talk to the online folks at HSBC to ask more questions, and they couldn’t tell me anything – in fact, I was to go to a bank as soon as possible with my identification. Being on holiday meant I wouldn’t be able to go to my local branch – and the closest branch to me wouldn’t take appointments and was currently closed. I would have to go to a bank the next day – before heading home – to try and resolve things.

I phoned Hitachi, and had a conversation with a rather nice chap there. All I was armed with was a reference number (from the transfer), and the loan amount. I did manage to get through to their fraud department, and uncovered a few things.

The man on the phone was surprised at how quickly the loan amount had been deposited into my account. The loan had been approved immediately, as my credit score is excellent. This also meant that minimum identity checks had happened, because my credit score was that good. If anything, the whole loan had been fast tracked!

The nice man also let me know what information had been provided, and I found it really unsettling. The impersonator had my full name, date of birth, my place of birth, my full address and my full bank account number and sort code. The only things that were incorrect were my job title, email address and phone number.

We then got into how I was going to give Hitachi their money back. I was reluctant to do a bank transfer at this point, as I knew something had gone down – I decided to go direct through HSBC, but also that I had to go to a bank in person to prove that I was me at this point. As far as plans go, I figured it was a pretty sound one!

The final thing I could do, given that everyone else had likely gone home for the day, was to register with CIFAS for protective registration. This isn’t free, by the way – it’s £25 for two years.

I made a list of all the things I needed to do as soon as possible:

  • First off, find out what had happened with the bank. That would be first thing the next day.
  • Go through all my credit reports with a fine tooth comb, to see if anything else had been done in my name. This would be done when I was back home.
  • With all information in hand, report the matter to the police.
  • Contact all the credit agencies to get anything fraudulent removed from my files.
  • Check that that the impersonator had not put a redirect on my mail.

Seems like a fairly small list. Bear in mind that I had a few things against me – it was a bank holiday weekend, and this was all going down on a Friday evening, after 5pm. I had time in to morning to go to the bank and try to sort things out, but they didn’t open until 10am. And then I had a really long drive back home (about 5ish hours). Bank holiday meant that everywhere would be closed on the Sunday as well as the Monday.

I was fuming, and powerless to do anything because everyone working had gone home for their long weekend. I had been done, and at that moment in time, there was nothing else I could do about it. The joy was sucked from my holiday, and as you can imagine, I got little sleep that night.

I’ll go over what went down at the bank in the next post. This is getting long.

 

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