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In the summer of 2000 while on a multi-city business trip my husband, Richard, checked into a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. The next day I answered a phone call at our home in Minnesota from the credit card company who issued the card he used the day before. Asking to speak with Richard, I took the phone number, contacted him, and he returned the call. The credit card company representative informed him that someone was attempting to charge a number of large ticket items to his card as quickly as possible in the Miami area. Because the quick succession of charges was atypical for the card, the activity raised a red flag for the creditor and prompted the phone call.
I guess you could say we were lucky. Most people don't discover they are victims of identity theft until there has been weeks or months of fraudulent activity. Yet even with such quick action it took nearly two months to finish the process of filing reports, contacting agencies, and following up with correspondence to ensure that no other attempts were made to use Richard's identity for additional crimes.
Perhaps the most unsettling aspect for victims of identity theft is the unknown. How much of your information does the thief have? How was it stolen? What other ways might he or she try to use it? What can you do to prevent it from happening again?
We wanted these answers and so should you, whether you've been the victim of identity theft or not. Because of our own experiences, when the opportunity was presented to write this book, I jumped at the chance. Inside you'll find tips and contact resources that can answer questions and replace the unknowns with useful information. My hope is that one small snippet or idea from these pages may be all you need to avoid joining the growing ranks of ID theft victims.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|