Thursday, May 17, 2012

Identity crisis! Well, actually identity theft

So we're refinancing a mortgage (truly a first-world situation) and we find our credit report has a ding on it. Short version, somebody got hold of my social security number (it's out there in the wild, apparently) and got a telephone with it, in Winnetka. That's Winnetka, California, for those who, like me, didn't know we had one here.

So, what to do about it? Someone at the collection agency (EOS CCA) told me to file a police report. In what jurisdiction? I asked. I mean, I'm not going to L.A. to file a police report. So the Redwood City Police Department now has a report. Cool; I'm now an official victim of identity theft.

That report, plus $2.50 (plus tax and tip), will get you a cup of coffee at Stack's; meanwhile, because of my lowered credit score, my loan origination fee is some $800 more than it would have been otherwise.

And I've spent some time this evening writing a letter to AT&T, telling them that the charge was fraudulent, and castigating them for their reckless and irresponsible lending policies. At the time of the fraud (last fall), I'd had an AT&T home phone for about 12½ years—for some of those years it was Pacific Bell, or SBC, or something like that but who cares—my residence address (some hundreds of miles away from Winnetka, CA) was unchanged; etc.

I disputed this bogus charge with all three credit rating agencies. I also mailed them a copy of the police report. TransUnion took a few days to remove the bogosity from my credit report; Experian emailed me today saying to take the matter up with the original creditor.

Would it have been cheaper to just pay off AT&T? Well, I don't know if that would have cleaned up my credit score in time; the other thing is, it would encourage AT&T in their reckless and irresponsible lending practices. Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!

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