Right before the end of the year in 2014 my wife and I went shopping at a department store and took advantage of an after Christmas sale to get her a necklace. It wasn’t tremendously expensive (I think it was under 50 dollars) but when the clerk asked if we wanted to save fifteen additional percent by opening up a store credit card, we said sure.
And that was our mistake. We weren’t to learn about the mistake for many months, and we’re still paying for it.
An employee at the department store’s call center had a very similar name to my wife’s, which apparently led her to believe she could steal my wife’s identity. With my wife’s information this stranger proceeded to buy two new cars and then went on a credit card rampage, signing up for whatever she could lay hands on. I was a little confused when I started receiving phone calls during the day in early 2015 asking if we had opened credit cards, but they sounded so much like phishing attempts (they usually asked for our personal data) I didn’t think the people I was speaking with were real company representatives.
Very long story short, my wife had to spend a really long time filling out forms and contacting various companies to get her name cleared. And now we’ve twice driven to Cincinnati (four hours away) first to testify in a hearing and then at a grand jury so that the identity thief gets put away.
You see, she didn’t get to enjoy any of her thefts for long because it wasn’t a very good plan. She just thought she had access to free money via this assumed alias, and it very quickly caught up with her. All she did was spend a lot of other people’s money and cause a lot of headache for herself and a bunch of other people. Including my amazing wife. Now she’s headed to jail for years. Bad for her, bad for us, bad for the car companies and credit card people.
On the upside, the detective working the case in Ohio is a really nice fellow, and, as it happens, we’ve had a very pleasant experience dealing with everyone in the Ohio justice system from judge to prosecutors to bailiffs to clerks. Those we’ve met have been good natured, hard working, intelligent, and determined. It’s honestly been a pleasure getting to meet them. And my wife and I have been trying to make the best of the situation — as we’ve had to be in Cincinnati early in the morning twice now, we just drive over the night before, each time eating at a nice restaurant on the way there and on the way home. This last time we had most of a day in Cincinnati, wandering around and visiting shops.
I’d still trade it all away by simply refusing that store credit card completely so we didn’t have this hassle, but we’ve been having some success making lemonade from the lemons. Soon it will all be over. I realized as I shook hands with the detective yesterday that I’d probably never see him again, which was a little sad. It’s nice to meet good people.