7 On Your Side: Life After Identity Theft - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2/7/06-Longview

7 On Your Side: Life After Identity Theft

  "Then when the bills began to come in I was just beside myself!," says the Longview identity theft victim. He want to remain anonymous so we'll call him "Mike." He was astonished to open his credit card bill to find a total of $9,204.10 charged to his credit cards, over a 60-day period.
  "Did you ever think this would happen to you?," asks KLTV 7 Reporter Christine Nelson. "Oh no! Never! It was a total surprise!," exclaims "Mike." "Mike" says he left town on vacation last November and that's when he says his roommate stole credit cards from his briefcase and, according to his credit card company, through the mail. "The [credit card representative] said 'Yes sir, someone has your new card and to date they've run up $3,500 in the month of November on the card.'," says "Mike."
  Another $3,800 was charged in December. Plus $500 combined on his Citgo and Fina gas cards. "We feel very comfortable having our credit cards, thinking that all we have to do is call our company and they'll say 'oh yes, we're so happy to cancel this for you.' It's not that easy," says "Mike."
  Credit card companies require you fill out affidavits detailing your claim that your card has been stolen and fraudulently charged. Companies then begin their own investigation which could take days or weeks. So far for "Mike", "Nothing has been credited to my account. One has been sent back that they rejected my claim."
  You can help validate your claim by filing a report at the police department. Both Tyler and Longview police departments have officers who specifically investigate these crimes. Longview PD Detective Benjamin Kemper says it's important to remember they are not solved overnight. "What we will do with that information is send subpoenas to the companies where accounts were started fraudulently and hopefully get info back on who started account and what cities they were in," says Kemper.
  "Mike" is not making the same mistake twice, he's putting the rest of his nearly 60 credit cards through the shredder. "They were just sent to me. I just put them in a folder and kept them locked up, I thought they were safe locked up," says "Mike." While he hopes these fraudulent claims will fall in his favor, it's going to take something money can't buy to get through this ordeal: time and patience.
  You should also file a "fraud alert" with all three credit agencies if you're an ID theft victim. The alert prevents thieves from opening new accounts in your name. Since our interview, "Mike" tells us his roommate has agreed to pay back what was charged on the cards, so "Mike" decided not to press charges.

Christine Nelson, reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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