Most of us figure we're pretty safe from identity theft. That's what one woman thought, too.
Leslie Yeoman has always been careful where she shares her personal information.That's why she couldn't believe someone had stolen her identity.
"You just feel real violated," she said. "It's like, 'Who's doing this to me?'"
Credit Card Denied
It all started when her credit card was declined one day. "I went to use my credit card for gas," she said, "and it was declined. And I usually never go over my balance."
So she called her card company, and received some jaw dropping news.
"They told me there was some cell phone and some cable set up in my name and was being paid through my credit card," she said.
Yeoman has spent the past 3 years fighting to get her identity back.
Yeoman did what the FBI recommends when you suspecy fraud: She closed her accounts, filed police reports, and placed fraud alerts at the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
But it was a long wait to get answers, she says.
A year later, she says, a woman who worked at a store where she shopped was arrested for stealing more than a dozen customer credit card numbers.
Card Skimmed by Store Employee
How did it allegedly happen?
"The store has a frequent buyer card, and when I used my reward card, she had all my personal information," Yeoman said. "And she apparently had a little device where she swiped my credit card and then had all my information. That's what police think."
In the wake of the recent Target security breach and now a Home Depot breach, security experts say watching your credit and debit cards is essential.
To prevent ID theft, they say you should:
- Check your monthly statement line by line for unusual charges.
- Set up an alert with your credit or debit card, where you get an email for any large purchases over $300.
- Check your credit report every year, for free, at http://www.annual creditreport.com.
- Shred all statements that contain account numbers.
Leslie Yeoman now shreds everything and watches her cards very carefully. "I do check every statement now when it comes in the mail, to make sure every charge is mine," she said.
Good advice, so you don't waste your money.