This is the second part of a two-part story. Click here to read part 1.

HE SAYS:

The credit card companies and the credit bureaus did a good job helping us build a security bubble over ourselves so that the thief was having a hard time being successful in his fraudulent efforts; however, none of them were interested in finding the thief and putting a stop to his criminal activity.  So, we naturally turned to law enforcement to catch and punish our thief in the belief that a crime as pervasive and destructive as identity theft would be taken seriously and pursued with vigor.  Oh, how wrong we were.

We first called the police department in our home town in New York and were advised that they would not take a complaint over the phone which, of course, would have required me to suffer the hardship of traveling over 2,700 miles to make a complaint in person.   This was just one of the many road blocks and inadequacies we encountered with law enforcement’s lack of desire and inability to do anything about identity theft.  We next went to our Sheriff’s Department in Arizona and we were able to make a report and, eventually, obtain an Incident Report; however, other than generating this report they had no interest in pursuing this crime or conducting any investigation on our behalf.   The Sheriff’s Department would not contact any of the credit card companies to obtain the information they had on the thief and took the position that unless the thief was in their jurisdiction they would not take any action.

Despite all of the frustration and lack of any effort by law enforcement to find the thief, we felt like we had things under control until the thief made his next move.   The postman that delivers the mail to our office in Schenectady, New York knows us and was somewhat incredulous when he asked our office manager why I was having my mail forwarded to some address in California.  We learned that our thief had filed in my name an online change of address form with the US Postal Service to have my mail forwarded from my office address to an address in a small town near Los Angeles, California.   This was the most unnerving development since not only was the thief trying to fraudulently use my name but was now trying to steal my mail with all of the privacy issues that entails.   This prompted us to go paperless and exclusively rely on receiving our credit card statements, bank statements, investment statements, and even our bills online.

We immediately called the Schenectady Post Office and we were given the number for the national postal service department that deals with change of address requests.   They were cooperative and cancelled the change of address; however, we were advised that it would take several days for the cancellation to become effective so that some mail would probably get forwarded since our mail could be automatically diverted before it ever reached Schenectady.

We next called the post office in California and they proved to be very helpful.   They agreed to intercept any of my forwarded mail and send it back to Schenectady.   They also advised that they had already been suspicious of the address the thief was using and that the post office would conduct a sting operation to catch our thief.   We were also assured of this by the US Postal Service Fraud Department which considers itself to be a national law enforcement agency.   We were very hopeful that something would finally be done until we came to understand that they are all talk and no action.   To our knowledge, they never pursued the matter and they never kept any of their promises to call us with updated information.

We also contacted the police department in that small town in California and sent them the Incident Report from the Arizona Sheriff’s Department in lieu of going there to personally file a complaint.  Since then, they have never returned any of our calls and apparently have not done anything to pursue this crime or help us.   We have found that law enforcement thinks and acts in very narrow and limited ways and is not prepared or equipped to deal with sophisticated technological crimes that are conducted on a national scale such as identity theft even when the thief is in their own backyard.

We ultimately filed our Police Incident Report with the three credit bureaus in order to extend our “Fraud Alerts” for seven years.   It has been six months since we have had any identity theft activity that we are aware of anyway and we have taken and continue to take remedial steps and precautions to prevent this from happening to us in the future.

What we learned is that it is easy for identity thieves to steal and use your identity and for good reason since no one in the entire process from the companies being defrauded to law enforcement to even agencies having a national reach such as the US Postal Service has the desire to fight identity theft and bring the thief to justice.   If you become the victim of identity theft, good luck, since you will have to fight to protect yourself with little or no chance of actually finding and stopping the thief.

On Monday, Joe encourages everyone to vote in “Bigger Than Any One Of Us”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?