WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR IDENTITY IS STOLEN
One of my clients, let’s call her Polly (not her actual name obvs) recently had her handbag stolen which included her wallet, phone and car keys.
It’s obviously a giant inconvenience for many reasons, but it’s the secondary part of this story that has shocked me into being a little less trusting with my personal belongings.
You see, the problem with this scenario, is that the low life who stole the bag, is now going around opening credit cards, getting personal loans and phone plans in Polly’s name.
Not only that, but they have her address and her car and house keys.
This has so far cost her at least a few hundred dollars because she has had to change the house locks and purchase a car steering wheel lock to make sure they don’t rock up to her house and steal her car. Scary stuff!
Then the bills started coming. Polly started receiving telephone bills and credit card bills. Even though the ID didn’t match the person buying the phone, the telephone companies still accepted the ID and granted someone else a telephone under my Polly’s name. What the actual…..
So far, we’ve identified that they have applied for micro loans, more telephones and potentially other credit like after pay and credit cards. Polly has had an amazing credit score until this point and right now it’s getting dragged through the mud by someone trying to take advantage of the situation.
Both Polly and myself have learned a lot from this experience, so I wanted to give you a list of things that you need to think about doing ASAP if this happens to you. Given the way that you can transact online these days, it’s more than just the standard.
What you probably need to do on the day:
- Contact the police and report the crime so that you have a record of the date and time. You will likely need this later when you are proving it wasn’t you who took out the credit card.
- Call you banks to cancel or put a hold on ALL accounts.
- Cancel and reissue your Medicare card, drivers licence and any other cards within your wallet. Also, let the companies know that this has happened so that it is flagged on their system.
- If your keys were stolen too, you will need to consider changing the locks and getting a steering wheel lock, just like Polly. This is mainly because they have her home address from her driver’s licence.
- Contact your financial adviser. If like Polly, you have any investments etc, you may like to put access on hold so that money cannot be withdrawn for a period of time.
- If you have a laptop or something in your bag, you’ll need to think about that too. You may like to call your home contents insurer and see if you have cover for cash, phone and laptops.
What you may like to consider in the following weeks:
- Polly has had to do a credit check to chase up other companies that have been contacted. She has then had to contact each of them to ensure that a credit card or loan has not been established in her name. If it has, she then needs to go through the process of declaring that these have been fraudulent activities. (this is why you need the police report etc to make sure you are covered).
- The downside is she might need to do this again, in a months’ time as the credit check only brought up what had happened so far.
- Any bills that she receives in the post, will need to be disputed with all of the relevant information from the police reports etc as they come in.
I have always been really trusting. I will often leave my bag or wallet at a cafe table while I order a coffee, and I can tell you that I am definitely not doing that anymore. I always thought that the worst that can happen is that they steal the cash and move on. With technology and internet lending, access to finance is so much easier than it used to be (just think of Afterpay) and most of the time you don’t even need to physically be there.
So if you are as trusting as me, maybe think about keeping your bag with you even if it seems like you are being paranoid. Unfortunately there are some absolute ”You know what’s” out there who are prepared to take advantage of a stray bag or wallet.
This post is from our resident Financial Planner Cara Brett, check out her details in the About Us section.
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