My wife and I have been victims of identity theft.
It’s a sad story.
If things had gone the way we planned, right now, my wife and I would be planning a move into a new condo.
The time was just right. We had saved up the money for a good down payment. My income was finally firming up. Interest rates are fairly low. Prices on the condos we wanted are currently falling like a lead balloon. We could afford exactly what we wanted.
We have been watching and waiting for the right place.
We fell in love with a particular place a few years ago. I am not much of a fan of condos, but this was better than anything I have seen anywhere. Unfortunately, besides not having the money for it, units in the complex were not often available. Especially the size we wanted. All that has changed in the last few months. It looked like this was going to be our chance to find a nearly perfect place and price. We were ready to start looking at mortgages.
We also had kept looking at other places.
We were checking all the homes for sale in the area. Calling the hotlines to see if there were any other better options than what we were thinking about. We found a few other options in homes that we were thinking about. When the time came to sign, we wanted to know we were satisified we had found the best place for us. Things were looking very good and very affordable right now.
All that changed with a call† to my cell phone from a collection agency looking for my wife.
Now, my wife and I do not have any debts. Our cars are paid off. We have no loans. We use credit cards, but pay the balance off in full every month. The only time I have ever missed a payment was once I tried to schedule a payment to pay while I was on vacation. The credit card company counted as two payments for the preceding month (even though that had been paid full before it was due) instead of counting it the month I thought.
We should have had an excellent credit rating.
We should have gotten excellent interest rates. We should have had our choice of mortgages to choose from. We both have never been late or missed a payment even before we were married. My wife was even better at paying them off monthly than I was.
What happened to our credit rating?
The call from the collection agency was just the tip of the iceberg. While I will not go into details, we had to pay the card off immediately. I then ordered credit histories for myself and my wife. Mine was very good. My wife’s was a different story.
Unknown to us, my wife’s credit history had years of bad credit card payments.
It was even worse. There were three more cards in her name that were overdue and nearly into collection also. She had no knowledge of those cards. Again, I cannot go into the details, but we cannot just claim fraud even though we were not responsible for the cards or the debt. While definitely victims of identity theft, we are still stuck with the ruined credit history and the debts in it. We do not have a real choice.
It will be two years before we can even think about applying for a mortgage now.
We used more than we were planning to use for a down payment to pay off the credit cards in my wife’s name. So now we also have no downpayment. It was a devasting blow to go from finding what you want, to being in worse shape than when you began saving in the first place.
I find most people think identity theft comes from using your credit card online.
I think that this is truly a rare occurrence. Most identity theft happens by far more older traditional methods. Those “pre-approved” credit card applications are just one source. There are many ways it can happen. Let’s face it, how many times this year have you needed to provide personal information for a legitimate reason? How do you know that your information is not getting stolen from those you need to give it to? Major retailers have admitted to losing customer data. Many large employers have had employee data lost or stolen. Even our blessed US Government has had entire hard drives lost with personal data of citizens on them.
For me, I have always thought I would get identity theft protection sometime in the future.
Maybe I thought I needed to make more money first. Maybe I thought the chances of it happening to me were too slim. I have known about Lifelock and their identity theft service for a long time and just simply put it off too long. I even had a very good reason sign up last August (a great company I work with announced a special Lifelock offer to members). Had we gotten Lifelock then, we may have been able to save our credit rating. We would have avoided the situation completely if we had signed up with Lifelock a few years ago when I first though it looked like a good idea.
We could have avoided the whole mess with Lifelock.
Credit card accounts in our name could not have been opened without our knowledge. We would have known about accounts wrongly attached to our credit history. We would have regularly seen our credit history – I put that off too long also. We also would have had the million dollar insurance to clean up the mess.
Some of what Lifelock does you can do yourself.
For free. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit history from each of the credit burau . You can request that credit card companies stop sending you applications by mail. Lifelock does this for you though, and keeps it all up to date. Many of these things need to be kept updated or you get put back on the list after a few months. Lifelock takes care of that for you and gives you a one stop source for starting and keeping it up to date.
You need to take steps to protect yourself from identity theft now!
Either take action yourself, or get Lifelock. Start immediately. Time can truly make a difference. I know this post sound like a commecial for Lifelock. In a way, it is. I do get a commission if you choose to buy from my links. Lifelock is also a service I personally now use and recommend to friends and family. I once thought I would wait a bit or that I did not yet make enough for the cost to be worth it – I was wrong. Nearly anyone can afford what Lifelock charges a month and you’ll sleep better. It is simply good and inexpensive insurance. If you do not go the Lifelock route, you need to start taking serious steps to prevent identity theft yourself, starting today.
Not taking action cost my wife and I our dream home.
It cost us our credit rating. It cost us our entire downpayment that we had saved and then some. We may get the money back someday (while possible it won’t happen anytime soon), but we may be losing the best chance on a great deal on the place we wanted. It is difficult to put a price on what the cost has truly been to my wife and I. It has been devastating and I know the hurt feeling my wife has everytime we pass a home for sale now. We do not even have a reason to look anymore.