Life is not easy. Sometimes, we are not conscious of how much we are lucky when we’ve been living an “uneventful” lifEverydayday every office work with casual private time is not much inspiring. Only people who had real problems in their lives are capable of appreciating this. According to my friend’s unique story, I’ve recently discovered that sometimes searching for a job on the Internet could be a very tough experience. It is one of those examples when we usually say – that it is happening to someone else. John became a victim of the ID theft as an online job seeker. His “dream job” turned up to be a scam. What happened to him was like in the movie. He got fired from his job, and at the same time, a fake company (he didn’t know at the time) has offered him an online sales job. Unfortunately, he wasn’t careful enough to check all the details about this company. There were some suspicious signs, but John couldn’t make a difference and revealed some security information to his “virtual employer.” I’ve stated some alerts for job seekers getting good offers from potential identity thieves.
Like a cold shower came information about his credit card. They have used his personal details and have spent over $10,000 for online purchases. After he found out, his actions were precisely the same as in a description offered on the web site for job searching.
In the aftermath of this terrible incident, John has felt not only in financial matters. His mistake of trusting someone left him very insecure and somehow reserved. I was really intrigued by his story, so I asked him to tell me again in detail. Well, at first, I was shocked, but then I’ve started to think that all of us could become victims of these “cybercriminals.” We all have some details on the net. We are using our credit or debit cards online. Something could happen just by having a random search.
I was curious about the whole story, and I couldn’t wait for it. Yesterday, he stopped by to have a chat with me and to explain all details. Telling his story about mistakes he had made was a little confusing. We discussed his delusion and how he could trust someone that he has never seen before. At that moment, he was afraid of losing a job. The same day his boss told him that his work contract would be canceled from the next month, he received an e-mail from this company. They have used the real company which is in online business. Their name and business were covered, and they have been using this particular mask several times. Because of the wide area of their criminal deeds, police couldn’t catch them easily. They didn’t ask for Social Security Number or anything suspicious from the start. There were some regular questions and details from my resume. One of their methods was to ask for some personal questions. Mostly, questions that have been used for banking or any online transactions. He asked that person – Jane, why he had to reveal this information. She said that they have had to open his online account, as for their employee. Well, it was a little suspicious, but he didn’t have a chance to think a lot. He was losing a job, and the opportunity was there. Only what he had to do is to send them his papers and wait.
For the first time in his life, waiting was not such a good sign. He has never got a phone call from Mrs. Mark. Instead, he received a phone call from his banker. After this unpleasant conversation, he decided to start with checking his offer, application. Looking everywhere to find signs of fraud. He wasn’t an expert in online sales, but they offered him to become their Sales Manager. The first sign. They kindly explained that after signing the contract, he would be ready to start. The next interesting irregularity was an e-mail address of Mrs. Mark. It was the business one but sent via yahoo.com. He missed that detail. The link to the company site was actually a hyperlink. Their address was written with CAPS. Very smooth. The last detail was his notification box on Monster. There wasn’t any information about this company.
How they breach his security information for a credit card? Well, he couldn’t remember at the moment, but there were some questions. It was the same as his security question in the bank for his credit card. Immediately he started to check transactions. They’ve spent more than $9,000 because he owed only $850 last month. Of course, they began with small amounts. Then one rejected transaction via PayPal and several transactions below $1,000. For seven days, they played with his credit card, and finally, when it was suspicious, the bank canceled his credit card and called him. Why not before? He couldn’t realize why this happened to him. He was only looking for a job. He didn’t have any purchases on a credit card for more than a month. Every detail was very suspicious. Now, the next phase. His debt and credit report. What to do?
He started to read instructions from Monster. Yes. He should do that before then he was linked on the FTC site. Three credit report companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, have to be alerted. All these companies have to give one free credit report and one annual report. Well, he needed a solution.
It wasn’t easy, but John made it. He has started online research. First on the Monster and then on the site of the Federal Trade Commission. Well, he found dozens of tips and instructions. After analyzing what to do, John has called three respectful credit report companies for an initial fraud alert. It was the next step, to call three credit reporting companies. Placing an initial fraud alert wasn’t too much complicated. One of the first suggestions he had got from a very polite consultant when he called Equifax was to order credit freeze status. Yes, but for now, he needed his CR. Then, he filed reports to Federal Trade Commission and the police. Not a very pleasant experience either, but regarding instructions, he found on the FTC site, everything had to be reported, and more details he could provide, it was better for him. Their emails and phone calls, job offer, and all other papers were in one folder. He brought that folder to the police. Officer had a professional approach, and John felt like there was some hope.
The important thing was to create an identity theft report. It would help to solve the situation with credit report companies, debt collectors, and other issues. How do we make this report? John explained to me that process involves 3 steps. After making a report to FTC, you have to print a copy, and you’ll get an affidavit. Then you file a report to the police. Attaching these two files, you are getting your identity theft report.
In the morning, he contacted State Attorney General’s office and asked them about putting credit freeze status. Then, he called all three companies and finished the process. There was also a possibility to place an Extended Fraud Alert. They told him to put this alert for getting 2 free credit reports within 12 months at the attorney’s office. To set this alert, he had to submit ITR. From now on, everything should be organized and monitored – phone calls, documents, emails, deadlines. He made a follow-up on every move. It has become his lifestyle.
After two weeks, he has ordered credit reports and has found no new fraud attempts. On the other side, there was a credit card issuer and not an easy solution. He consulted his lawyer regarding this thing. His pin code and other security questions were masterfully revealed, and there was nothing he could do. The bank canceled his credit card. The gold card turned to dust. He didn’t spend one cent for two months. He was afraid of losing a job, without a job, with few bucks and bills to pay for the next month(s). All he could hope is that police is going to find thieves. Well, it isn’t easy to return his money. He gave them information. They could breach the security system easily. He had heard there were such cases when people got hacked. Usually, they could find a way to refund their money. In this concrete situation, he had to wait. Checking errors, changing pin codes, and making updates were his major activities. According to the FTC instructions, he sent letters to the bank, and he tried to dispute charges.
Talking with a specialist from the bank’s fraud department and then again collecting all proofs about this case were necessary at that moment. The bank was going to investigate. That’s the law. He started from the beginning and tried to explain every detail to this officer. She listened to him and asked him usual questions about the conversation with criminals, about other suspicious details. It was something that he never noticed before. His alerts on the cell phone (each time his credit card was used) were turned off. Well, they thought about everything. When this procedure in the bank’s fraud department was finished, he had to wait for 30 days. John returned to his everyday life and waited. No calls, no news, nothing. Actually, he expected a letter from the bank about removing his fraudulent information. Why didn’t they send him this letter? This wasn’t a good sign. He had to be more persistent. What he needed was a little help from a friend. His sister in law had helped him to block this fraudulent information. Sending a copy of identity theft report, copies of ID documents with Social Security number, and of course CR. She prepared all documentation and asked the bank to inform all three nationwide companies to block credit report errors. This didn’t mean that his debts vanish, but in the end, his credit report was protected, and the bank couldn’t sell debts to another company. That’s what he thought at that moment.
For more than 60 days, he didn’t have money for regular living. Family helped him, but without a regular job, he didn’t have much chance to survive. The only income was from some temporary position. It was the first phone call from some strange, husky voice. Debt collector. Bank sold his debt to another company, although he asked for blocking. The male voice explained that his debt was sold to his company just the day before he has reported to credit report companies. Under these circumstances, he didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, he had all his files updated and well-organized. After consulting with his lawyer, he has sent a letter to the debt collector. Maybe, his agony was at the end. Maybe, it was just the start. The lawyer didn’t have good news for him. Even he took all actions accurately, and in time, the bank sold the debt to the debt collecting company. Why? Simple, the bank sold debt because he has lost regular income. From that moment, all his efforts were directed to prolong this debt collecting.
During the past two months, all actions were taken according to instructions. Nothing was missed, records and follow-ups, but unfortunately, he couldn’t avoid this kind of a mess. For more than one year, he tried to solve this problem. With the debt collector, he achieved an agreement and finally got a message that thieves were cached. Police found a smaller group, assuming that they are part of a much larger id theft ring. Some of the “mistakes” in their introducing letter were leading trails for the police. His life was getting back to normal, and he had an offer for a new job.
His really tough journey is history now. History could help all of us to learn something and not to make mistakes as John did. Not to follow his steps. Just be careful where we are going.