Wow! a $1,132 credit charge – fraud alert easy safety net

Albeit a non-SBS topic – I thought what I’ve learned this week to be a useful story that may help some of you. Yes, besides all the other recent issues effecting me like the flooded basement, I received an alert last Friday evening on my phone that a large purchase had been placed on my credit card. What I discovered was that a $1,132.92 item was added to my card from Dell Online.

Since I and the Mrs. have a joint account (and we’ve done well that way for 8 years) I wasn’t too aroused but still was curious. So first thing Saturday morning I saw the accompanying email alert I also arranged to be sent to me in the event anything over $200 gets charged. For the most part this has been relatively painless as I don’t generally spend that much at any given time and when I do I know what to expect. It’s my Chase safety net.

So by this time I knew this wasn’t from me or Mrs. DUIT but I thought maybe the database at Dell had merely strayed across accounts. Although that would be a bad thing, even worse is someone actually calling Dell, placing an order, and verifying it. The Dell rep told me that was what occurred and it was a projector sent to:

Amy Martin
218 Country View Rd
Monticello, Arkansas 71655
( 716) 716-7165

The zip code was legitimate to the address so this was turning interesting.

You notice anything funny about the phone number and the zip code? Me too but apparently Dell didn’t. In any case by Saturday morning Dell had already shipped the item and they claimed they had no recourse in stopping the shipment. I asked if they were going to contact the destination’s local law enforcement? The answer was “No”. I was disappointed at this point as I wanted some satisfaction in knowing this thief would be thwarted but it was not to be. Later I was passed to someone else in Dell who offered reassurance, polite “we are sorry for your inconvenience” apologies, and what else could they really say? A case was opened up to formalize the affair and then that was it. An email arrived with this information and that was that.

Fraud was happening and I needed to stop my ID theft ASAP; so I contacted Chase Bank and did just that. Additionally I discovered through trial and error that of the three credit reporting companies, Transunion had a very simple and effective telephone “fraud alert” issuance service. 1-800-680-7289 This took less than 5 minutes to complete and they would notify the other two agencies, Equifax & Experian. This did not require me giving any reason and anyone could do this at any time even right now. This lasts for 90 days and if I want I can call again to refresh it indefinitely. This is the exact same service that companies such as LifeLock charge to maintain.

The benefit to the fraud alert is that if someone actually has my ID they cannot open any lines of credit without a phone call being first made directly to me. The net effect is safe credit today and Chase is issuing me new credit cards that will arrive sometime this week in time to reconfiguring my online bill payment system for the end of month blood-letting.  It’s an inconvenience but it could have been far worse exponentially.

From the initial text alert setup through Chase’s online services, to the Transunion fraud alert, to using www.live.maps.com to check the address, to receiving verification from Dell via email, to regaining access to my credit online immediately by phone to Chase …without technology this would have been so much worse. Technology saved the day.

To summarize:

1-800-680-7289

five minutes of phone pad answers places a 90 day fraud alert at all three US credit reporting agencies – also if you want your annual free credit report (all three agencies) go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com

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