A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine – we’ll call her Sarah – got the type of phone call every financially-responsible person dreads. A collection agency phoned to let Sarah know that due to her failure to make payments on her wireless service, her account had been sent to collections. But Sarah didn’t have a wireless account with the company that had referred her to collections; she’s been the victim of identity theft.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2012. That basically means that 7% of American adults had their identity stole in some way, shape, or form in just that year alone. That’s a pretty terrifying thought.
I’d never been a victim of identity theft… until yesterday. And it’s not so much the crime that left me in awe, but the way in which it was handled by, of all things, my credit card company. This is a love letter to that company:
Dear Discover Card,
When I logged on to my account yesterday to see that somebody had made several hundred dollars worth of purchases from a series of online retailers I’d never heard of, I was terrified. I had visions of financial ruin in my head, and was nearly paralyzed with fear. Instead, I managed to call your 1-800 number. Within a minute, I was speaking to a customer service representative, who immediately transferred me to a fraud protection specialist. The latter informed me that because Discover Card has a 100% anti-fraud guarantee, that I wouldn’t be charged for any of the fraudulent purchases. Furthermore, your employee closed the compromised account, opened me a new one, helped me switch all my automatic payments over to the new account, and launched an investigation into the fraudulent purchases… all in under 12 minutes.
I’ve spent more time in line at the pharmacy; more time waiting for my toddler to go #2 in a public restroom; more time trying to navigate my health insurance provider’s website. Yet in just 12 minutes (11:38, to be exact), you managed to not only calm all my fears, but resolve the situation.
Customer service is a rare thing these days, but yesterday, you proved to me that it still exists. So thank you. Because you took what could have been a scary situation and turned it into a chance for me to applaud your company for doing things the right way.
What You Should Do in Case of Identity Theft
So what should you do if you find yourself, like I did, a victim of identity theft? First, call your credit card or bank to dispute the charges. Ask for a copy of your dispute in writing – you’ll need that if you plan to notify the police of the fraudulent activity, which you should, if for no other reason than to get it on the public record.
If your case of identity theft was launched, like mine was, over the Internet (I’d used a popular online website – which shall remain nameless – to order a slipcover for a loveseat the day prior, using the compromised card; it was the first time I’d ever shopped at this site, and I’ve got a feeling the two things are not merely coincidence), now’s the time to check your computer’s anti-virus software to make sure it’s up to date – that way, you reduce your chances of becoming a victim a second time.