Written by Peg Doman
I had a notice from a bank that our application for a Victoria’s Secret credit card has been denied. Denied? We’d never applied for one! The statement said that Experian had supplied the information. So, I wrote a letter (you can’t call them to ask WTH), made three copies of the statement and mailed them off to all three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TranUnion.
That was the second incident lately. Last month the first revealed to me that I had charged $49 worth of gas in Los Angeles. What? I haven’t been out of the state for years! I don’t loan my bank cards to family or friends and I certainly don’t loan them to strangers.
I think that it stemmed from the breach at Equifax. I had received a letter from them last year that our credit info was among those stolen by some elusive someone. They now have our credit card numbers, our social security numbers, our home address and business and home phone numbers, where we worked and God knows what else.
Having one credit card stolen is bad enough. A few years ago, my purse was stolen. Fortunately I noticed immediately and rushed back to where I had been. “No, no purses have been turned in.” I rushed to the two banks we use and cancelled all my credit cards. The thieves had already charged more than $800 by the time I reported it. I didn’t lose any money because the banks took the fraudulent charges off my card. That meant I needed a police report of the crime. That meant that I had to go through bank statements and call all the companies to whom I’ve been making automatic payments to give them the new numbers and wait for new cards to come. This is not a 10 minute task.
Now I’ll have to pay three credit bureaus to monitor our credit information or get an expensive policy that does it for me, and when the next application for credit comes into the bureaus, I’ll have to wait for a letter to get to me to confirm whether or not it was legitimate. This is a lot of bureaucratic hoo-haw to go through!
Well, I’ve learned my lesson. I scrupulously go through my bank statements to look for looters. I’m going to pay for credit monitoring. A once a year free credit statement from all three bureaus is not enough. We’ve been hacked and it’s up to us to keep our damage minimal. Every time I make a purchase, there’s the potential for a theft. Every week there is news of some agency being hacked. It’s a fiscally dangerous world out there.
As adults we check on our kids, we check our messages, and we get medical check-ups to eliminate potential problems. Who would have thought that we would have to check on those who have the details of our lives? Damn you Facebook. Damn you Equifax. Damn you TranUnion. Damn you Experian. Damn you Wells Fargo bank. Damn all agencies, government and private, that don’t have adequate security checks to keep us safe. Damn you all who haven’t guarded the data that could destroy our well-being and credit. We end up paying the price.