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Identity Theft: Paranoia or Runaround?

This morning, I received a call from someone who identified herself as being from the MBNA credit card corporation. She said that there had been unauthorized changes of address on my account by someone who had supplied a number of aspects of my identity in order to gain online access. According to her, my address had been changed to some place in Houston, and then I’d been charged $900 in fraudulent expenses by the people using their newfound access.

At no point in the call did I supply any new information about my identity to the person who said they were calling from MBNA. I only gave yes or no answers when the representative asked about who I was and where I was living now. In fact, I was very nervous that this “MBNA representative” might actually be a phisher, someone trying to trick me into giving away personal information. WHen I mentioned this, the “MBNA representative” clucked sympathetically, said I was being very wise and careful, and told me never to give such information over the phone to someone.

After speaking on the phone for about 10 more minutes, the “MBNA representative” told me that at no cost to me I could be registered for a program called ITAC at the Identity Theft Assistance Center. The ITAC program would put a notice on my account requiring calls be made to my home phone number to approve any credit application. This sounded like a great idea.

And so I was transferred to another operator who said she was with ITAC. This operator answered a few of my questions, and then transferred me to yet another operator who said she also with ITAC. This third operator then began to ask me some questions. First, did I agree to allow ITAC access to my credit report? I agreed. Second, did I agree to allow ITAC to share information with other companies and the federal government? Yellow alert! I got very caution and asked why this was necessary. The federal government collects statistics on identity theft, I was told, and those other companies included the very lenders with whom fraudsters might try to use my information, so they needed to be notified. At this point, I gave a very cautious and reluctant agreement. Then the operator asked for my full legal name. I gave it, thinking, “hey…” Right after that, I was asked for my date of birth. I didn’t give my date of birth, but instead asked what sort of information I’d be asked for next. “Oh, your street address, driver’s license number, last place of employment, social security number… we need this information to identify you correctly and offer the fullest protection.” Didn’t ITAC already have this information, I asked? “Well, we need to verify it for purposes of quality assurance.”

At this point, I declined, verbally withdrew my assent for the “ITAC representative” to access my credit report and share information with corporations, and politely hung up the phone.

Now I’m sitting here wondering. Were those people I talked to really from MBNA and ITAC, or were they phishers trying to get my personal information? Am I being paranoid, or was I being given the runaround? If I was just being paranoid and those were people from MBNA and ITAC who were really trying to help me, how would I know?

Eeeeeeeegh. Before I take any more steps (starting with a credit report), I’m going to take a few hours to think this all through. Whichever way this turns out, I’ve got one big case of the heebie jeebies.

3 comments to Identity Theft: Paranoia or Runaround?

  • Mark

    I would initiate a call to MBNA at this point to confirm whether someone tried to make a change of address to Houston. You’ll find out pretty quick whether this was a phishing scam. If the $900 in charges has actually been made to your account then you will need to file a written statement with them that these charges are not legit. You need to do this even when your credit card company identifies the fraud for you. I had to do this a couple of years ago.

    On further thought, if there had been a real misuse of your credit card number then the first thing the issuing company would have done (after contacting you) is to cancel the card number and issue you another. That’s what my card company did for me.

    Good luck. This is a good lesson on how vigilant we need to be to protect ourselves from scams.

  • You need the caller’s phone #. If you’ve got Caller ID, that might do it, but it’s possible to fake that. If you haven’t gotten any phone calls since that one, there’s a * code you can dial (*66?) to have the phone company save the number, so that the police can retrieve it later. I got a phishing call in 1998 or so, and didn’t report it in time, and the police declined to follow up on the grounds that it would cost them something like $100 to have the phone company trace the call.

  • Laurie O

    That call would have concerned me too. I agree with Mark, you can also put a “hold” on your credit with the 3 big credit raters and if anyone tries to steal your identity the big three have call you to verify that you are releasing your credit scores etc. to let’s Best Buy or some Ford dealer.

    This is what I got today for my son who is thinking of joining the Army…..It’s looks like a legit email from http://www.usaac.us.army but who on earth would do this? No wonder our credit information gets lost or stolen, our government tells us its dangerous give it out to unknowns yet does things like this:

    Hello,

    Thank you for your interest in the United States Army. A short while ago you requested information regarding the United States Army and enlistment opportunities. This may have been in the form of a T-Shirt and Video, a Ball Cap, an information packet, or some other promotional item. We hope this information was received quickly and was useful to you. Now that you have had some time to examine your information, we are contacting you to see if you would like to know more about your options and opportunities in the Army of One.

    Here are just a few excellent enlistment options / benefits that you may qualify for:

    THEY POSTED THE BENIFITS WONT BORE YOU

    BUT HERE IS WHERE THE IDIOCY STARTS!

    DATA REQUIRED BY THE PRIVACY ACT OF 1974

    AUTHORITY: Title 5, Section 3012; Title 10, USC, EO 9397

    PRINCIPAL PURPOSE: Provide data required by the Army Recruiting Command to establish minimum qualification(s) on eligibility for enlistment / processing into the Army or Army Reserve. This information is confidential and will not be released to person(s) outside the Recruiting Command.

    EFFECT OF NOT RELEASING INFORMATION: Disclosure by individual of information requested is entirely voluntary. Failure to provide this information will result in not knowing your full eligibility on joining the Army or Army Reserve.

    Please place your answers beside each question and do not delete the questions.

    [1] First Name:

    [2] Middle Initial:

    [3] Last Name:

    [4] Male or Female:

    [5] Have you visited our chat? If so, what nickname did you use?

    [6] Have you ever processed for any Branch of Service?

    [7] Are you currently speaking / processing with your local Army Recruiter?

    [8] What is your date of birth?

    [9] If attending school what grade are you currently in?

    [10] If not, what is the highest level of education you have achieved?

    [11] What is your height and weight?

    [12] Do you now or have you ever had any medical issues? If so, what type?

    [13] Have you ever had surgery? If so, what type?

    [14] Are you currently taking any meds? If so, please list the type:

    [15] Have you ever had any law violations? If so, please list the type:

    [16] Do you have a driver’s license? State?

    [17] Are you married, single, or divorced?

    [18] Do you have children? If so, how many and who has custody of them?

    [19] Are you a US citizen?

    [20] If not, do you have a Green Card?

    [21] Your street address, not a PO Box:

    [22] City:

    [23] State:

    [24] Zip code:

    [25] Home Phone:

    [26] When is the best time to reach you?

    [27] Do you have tattoos? Where? Style?

    [28] Are you interested in Active Army or Army Reserves?

    The Following Questions Only Apply To Prior Military

    [29] What Branch of Service were you in?

    [30] Are you currently in the IRR?

    Answer the following questions using your DD form 214 (Active Duty)

    [31] What is in Block 4b?

    [32] What is in Block 6?

    [33] What is in Block 12a?

    [34] What is in Block 12b?

    [35] What is in Block 15b (Yes or No)?

    [36] What is in Block 23?

    [37] What is in Block 24?

    [38] What is in Block 26?

    [39] What is in Block 27?

    [40] What is in Block 28?

    Answer the following questions using your DD form NGB 22 (National Guard)

    [41] What is in Block 5b?

    [42] What is in Block 10a?

    [43] What is in Block 23?

    [44] What is in Block 26?

    Thank You,

    Lead Refinement Center (LRC) Management Team
    United States Army Recruiting Command
    E-mail: LRC@usarec.army.mil
    Phone: 1-800-XXXXXXXXX

    HOW SCARY IS THIS???????????

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