As if taking advantage of modern-day technology to cheat someone out of their hard-earned money isn’t bad enough, identity thieves also leave each and every victim with a lovely little “To-Do” list.
If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen that I was the victim of identity theft this weekend. It was a typical Saturday morning. I was enjoying a steaming cup ‘o joe and went to log into my bank’s website like any other day, when I saw it – an unusual $850 increase. Dang, movies really are getting expensive!
Turns out, although movies are outrageously over-priced, it was just some confused guy in India trying to pay his $836.47 Cellucom bill and must have accidentally used my credit card! Whoops!
Luckily, my bank declined the charge without a second thought. I made a mental note right then to stop using so many four-letter words when describing my bank to people.
Everyone knows this step. As soon as you see the theft, call your bank and cancel the card immediately. If you didn’t know that, then you should probably have all credit cards in your name immediately destroyed.
Step number 1 took me all of five minutes. After I hung up the phone, I was done, right?
Most people forget this step until it’s too late. After I had cancelled my card, it quickly dawned on me how many automatic bill payments I had filtering through that very credit card on a monthly basis. (If you have had your identity stolen or you just want more insight into identity theft and crimes alike btw, completing courses in the Regis Online criminology masters program could be your first step in learning more.)
After you’ve cancelled your card, you’ll have to go through and switch every automatic payment from that credit card to another card or bank account.
This is the catch-22 with those handy-dandy automatic bill payments – they can always come back to haunt you if your credit card changes or expires (or gets hijacked by some scammer halfway across the globe forcing you to cancel your card).
When a company tries to bill you for your automatic payment and your card gets declined, guess what they do? Do they have their secretary call you to remind you that your credit card expired? That would be nice, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. They immediately charge you penalties and late fees, which can end up on your credit report in the end.
These two steps are two things you must do immediately when you’re the victim of identity theft. Your bank may have declined the initial fraudulent transaction, but if you don’t switch all your automatic bill payments, companies can just as easily rob you on a late fees.
Of course there is always step 3 which involves booking a plane ticket and tracking down the jerks that took advantage of your credit. Unfortunately, step 3 carries a high risk and a low success rate, so it’s generally not highly recommended…
If you’re ever the victim of identity theft – and I hope you’re not – always remember there are 2 steps (not just one!) when closing down your exposed credit card.