Not completely being the normal survive the apocalypse topic per se, I have chosen to throw this out there, as surviving this scenario will avert a personal apocalypse. I’m talking about identity theft. It is singularly the most ridiculous thing I have ever experienced in the pre-apocalyptic world.
I had been going through a particularly busy fall, so did not think too much about checking my online banking statements on a regular basis. Not to mention the fact that I am SO not a target, I do not have anything one would want! Before work one morning in late November, I figured I should do my civic duty, logon, and take a peek. What appeared on the screen was completely unbelievable. In the prior 5 days, almost a thousand dollars had left my account… Strange, I thought, must be some mistake. Therefore, I went to work knowing it would be cleared up that afternoon with a quick trip to the bank. I could not have been more wrong.
The bank trip took the entire hour and a half they had left before closing for the weekend. A multitude of questions and searching and signings of papers later left me with few answers. Now, I am not an online shopper, the couple of times I had was through Pay Pal or a very reputable bookstore. Somehow, though, someone in China had gotten a hold of my information and went on a crazy spending spree on my dime! Amongst his/her purchases:
$1.43 in noodles
A handheld television
Moreover, many random objects and services, none of which cost much but all together…
Gave me a negative balance in my account.
I assured the bank that I had not recently visited China, much less just come back today, and showed them pay stubs as proof. Yes, I had to prove I did not just return from China! They closed the accounts and told me I would be mailed new cards in 10 to 14 days. “What am I supposed to do in the meantime?” I asked them. “Just come to the bank when you need cash,” they told me with generous smiles upon their faces. They explained to me that the Anti Theft department would review my case, decide within three business days if they were going to keep reviewing it for 90 days while temporarily refunding the disputed money back into my account, of if they would simply call it negligence on my part and refuse to look into it. At that point, I was pointedly assured I could always appeal their decision, yet had I taken advantage of identity theft protection, they told me, all this could be taken care of by my chosen provider.
My money was refunded the next Thursday, pending further review. The next three months were a nightmare of faxes and phone calls, being placed on hold for many, many hour’s total. They took the money back at the end of February 2011. They said it was because they could not read my signature on the last forms I had went in to sign… Hmmmm that was actually at the bank and my broken hand was in a cast! I laugh now when thinking about all of this… (albeit a bit bitterly!)
They reopened the case, but this time would not put my money back into my account. Three more months and many hours spent in person and on the phone later, I received a phone call stating all the money was returned to my account, and that the matter was final.
I have no idea who took my identity, and probably never will. Nevertheless, I will tell you to be very careful and do what you can to protect yourself… ID Defender is a good one, and I like their 360 degrees of Protection. I thought I was never going to be a victim, who on Earth would want to steal from me when I have nothing to steal of any worth? Nevertheless, I learned the hard way that if they can get a hold of anything, they would take. And take until it runs dry.
The moral of this story? Do what you can to keep yourself and what is rightfully yours safe. That’s the real meaning of survival, isn’t it?