Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Cone of Shame

Truffle was spayed last Friday, but she still must wear "the cone of shame" because she can't stop licking the incision site, which irritates it and could possibly lead to infection. The cone impedes her progress on stairs, so she has to be carried up each time she ventures in to the basement or comes in from the back yard. Sometimes even if the cone is off, she will sit at the bottom of the stairs and whine. I foresee a period of re-education. She gets her stitches out the same day as my second round of chemotherapy. Someone else will have to take her to the vet for that procedure. Hopefully that will be my son, who is staying with his dad right now, because he came down with a high fever Wednesday night, and Group Health was adamant that he relocate elsewhere and that I get a third party to come in and disinfect the doorknobs and light switches and other common surfaces. My friend, A, was most obliging in this regard.

Another interesting (read not so good) thing happened this week. Yesterday as I was out walking the dogs with a friend, I received a call from Bank of America. It seems that someone using my name and SSN had tried to get a BoA Signature Visa card. BoA got suspicious and called me. I do not have a BoA account--I closed it earlier this year when I consolidated all my financial stuff with another bank. Plus, according to the application, I am a paralegal at the firm, Bailey, Banks and Biddle (for those in the know this is a jewelry store) and my mother's maiden name was Junes, so there was no way that it could have been me.

By the time I returned home from the walk, it was after 5pm EST, so I could not call BoA back to obtain more information about the bogus application. But I did email and received a response from a friend in the Consumer Protection Division of the AGO, where I had worked for 8 years. I think the information he provided me is germane to all of us, because identity fraud is so widespread, so I will put it here.

To begin with I went online to one of the three big credit reporting agencies, Equifax. On their home page they show a link to reporting credit fraud.

I filled out the form, emailed it back to them and later that evening they emailed me that they had placed a 90 day credit fraud alert on my file and had forwarded the same to the other two credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Experian.

However, there is still more I need to do per the AG's office. And note that although the following information does not say so explicitly, it is my understanding that there is a $10 fee at each credit reporting company to request a credit freeze:

If you are a Washington resident you can place a credit freeze on your credit report to prevent any additional credit or other accounts being opened in your name, and prohibit the credit bureaus from releasing information about you without your permission. Victims of identity theft may request a credit freeze free of charge. To “freeze” your report, you must first file a police report and then send a request by mail to the credit reporting agencies. We recommend sending your request by certified mail. Once you have notified the credit reporting agencies, they will have five days from receipt to put the freeze in place.

The law also allows individuals whose personal information has been compromised as a result of a security breach to place a freeze on their report. In order to put a freeze in place in this instance, you should notify the credit reporting agencies in writing by certified mail and include a copy of the notification that you received that made you aware that your personal information had been compromised.

A freeze is not 100% fail-safe as some creditors can and will issue credit without pulling a credit report. Firms with whom consumers have an existing business relationship will be able to obtain a report despite the freeze and a consumer’s information may be released for the purpose of prescreening as well.

If you choose to freeze your credit you should be aware that there is a process to unfreeze or “thaw” your credit. This process will delay your ability to obtain credit insofar as the credit reporting agencies have three business days to lift the freeze, once notified by mail, and 15 minutes through an electronic contact method. .

To request a credit freeze, you should notify the major credit reporting agencies and provide the information listed below:

Equifax Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
• Include: Name, current and former address, social security number, date of birth,and
proof of current address such as a utility bill
• Pay by check, money order, or credit card. Credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover). Give name of card, account number, expiration date, and identification number from back of card.
• ID Theft victim must include: valid copy of the police report, investigative report or complaint filed with other governmental law enforcement agency report (such as DMV report)

Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
(For overnight mail, use this address: Experian, 711 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013)
• Include: Full name, with middle initial and Jr./Sr., etc., current address and home addresses for past two years, social security number, birth date
• Proof of government issued ID card (driver’s license, military etc.)
• Proof of current address such as utility bill, bank or insurance statement. (Not acceptable: credit statements, voided checks, lease agreements, magazine subscriptions, or postal service forwarding orders.)
• Pay by check, money order or credit card. Credit Card: give name of card, account number and expiration date.
• ID Theft victims must include: valid copy of police report, investigative report or complaint filed with law enforcement agency.

Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance Department
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
• Include: Social Security Number, address, date of birth and other documentation, as requested.
• Proof of address, such as driver’s license or state issued ID card
• Pay by check or credit card.

Another option to protect against identity theft is to place a fraud alert on your credit report. However, merely placing a fraud alert on your account will not block the ability of a thief to open up lines of credit. You may place a fraud alert by notifying the major credit reporting agencies as follows:

The following major credit reporting bureaus:

Equifax -
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.

Experian - order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write:
P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013

To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
TDD: 1-800-972-0322

Trans Union -
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write:
P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022

To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
TDD: 1-877-553-7803

You may want to close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. If the entity with whom the account has been opened does not have an affidavit of forgery, you can use one that is made available by the Federal Trade Commission at

You should also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps law enforcement learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist them. Thank you for contacting our office.

This was long, but if it can help just one other person out there, it will be worth it. It took two days, but this morning I was able to file over the phone a police report with the Seattle Police Department. The woman at the SPD gave me the incident number and said that I could get a written copy of the report by calling the Records Department and requesting one by the end of the week. So I am glad I put the intial credit fraud tag in place with Equifax. As we move into the season of shopping, it's good to have this information at hand.

1 comment:

The Subtle Rudder said...

Truffle is as edible as her name. Yum.