Author Topic: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?  (Read 4455 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
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Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« on: August 17, 2015, 09:17:11 AM »
Dramatic post title aside, please lend me your ears (eyes) and advice!

On 7/31 I was trying to be a good Mustachian by filling out my Simple IRA shit. I had the form filled out with the following info:

- My SSN
- Our Birthdates
- Our Address
- Our Names

Our HR person told me apparently ONLY I could mail it to the investment firm, so I dutifully made copies. Because we work in an open-ish office, I shoved them into my notebook before hurrying to my next meeting. The name and title of the forms could be read at the top, I believe, but for obvious reasons I made sure my other info was obscured. 


 I had to head home from the office to pick up a prescription. My plan was then to work from home - this made me rush, since I live an hour away and had to be at my home by a certain hour for a meeting that just HAD to be lead by me. By the time I got home, led my meeting, and finished the tasks for my day, I realized that, to my horror, I had left the forms on my desk. I checked my purse to be sure. I hadnít put the forms in there and they werenít on my desktop or table.

It was after hours, so reaching my colleagues was pretty much out of the question (Fridays during the summer tends to mean that people leave at 5 on the dot). I thought about heading back into the city, but given the time, the cleaning crew had already gone through. I figured that if they were going to be stolen, theyíd already have been. I crossed my fingers for Monday.

The forms were gone.

I doubted myself for two weeks, hoping they would show up at home. They have not. Iíve asked the two people with whom I share a rather large rectangular space, and they swear they didnít accidentally grab them with their papers.

After crying about it and not sleeping for about 3 days, I set up credit monitoring through a service that covers all three bureaus and also monitors identity theft risk for both me and DH [$30 per mo, FUUU]

Here are my questions:

- How screwed am I and why?
- What can I do about being so screwed so that I ultimately AM NOT SCREWED?
- Do you have any stories of reassurance that my life will not be usurped and thoroughly destroyed by this mistake?
- Resources on identity theft say that I should submit a police report. I have no evidence that itís been stolen except my admittedly shoddy memory. Do I still submit a report?
- Do I ask HR to get in touch with the building and look at security cams?
- One of my goals is to try to get a free trip via CC travel-hacking. Can I still do this or will it fuck me up in the case that some other a-hole is trying to open cards on my name, too?

Disclaimer: While I always appreciate a warranted face punch, I cannot underscore how stressed out this whole situation has made me and, rest assured, this event in my life will now make me even more organized than I have ever been. Given that I am an obsessive compulsive, you can imagine just how organized that may be. In other words, if you can find it in your mustachian hearts: be gentle.


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2015, 09:29:02 AM »
So the notebook including the forms were taken? Or JUST the forms?

Best case scenario: cleaning people threw everything into the trash.
Moderate case: someone took it, but chickened out before they went through the identity theft
Worst case: someone stole your information and is going to use it

I think, given the circumstances, it does look a little suspicious and signs point to the worst case. It looks like you can contact people (credit cards, Equinox, etc.) to let them know to be on the lookout for fraud attempts.

This is a handy link:

It looks like it will take a fair amount of work on your end but it also does not look like this is the end of everything you've worked for! You've already set up credit monitoring, continue to follow the other steps to make sure all bases are covered.

Best of luck!


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2015, 09:31:34 AM »
I had my wallet cleaned out once at a bar about 6 years ago (stupid mistake, surprisingly fast), which included my driver's license. I called my bank and credit cards and put a freeze on my credit report the next day. Unless someone is playing an extremely long game nothing ever came out of it. And I mean literally nothing, no credit rating hit, no credit card being opened, no charges passed through the card.

The only part that really sucked out of it was replacing my driver's license since it took forever to track down my birth certificate and/or SS card.


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2015, 09:39:27 AM »
If your building does have security cams that cover your desk, getting a video of the weekend in which your forms went missing may just give you peace of mind. If it was taken by someone that's visible on the security cam, then you can file a police report. They may never plan to do anything with the info. (or took it without realizing what it was, and later tossed it), but at least you'd have a paper trail in case something does happen down the line.

Credit monitoring is a good idea. I also wonder if getting new social security numbers would just ease your mind; it may be a huge hassle, but if you are genuinely concerned that your identity may be stolen (and video of a person taking the forms + police report would likely be enough to prove identity theft), you can do it:


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2015, 09:44:47 AM »
Your life is not ruined. For starters, you're probably dealing with an amateur. Stealing some random form off somebody's desk is a pretty stupid way to go about identity theft. The smart way is compromising large data banks and selling or using the information in bulk.

I'm actually unsure what kind of person would even steal this form off your desk. The market value of this form is low, given that there are huge databases of these values obtained from compromised websites and services on a regular basis (most of which we don't hear about in the popular news media). You may be dealing with somebody who aspires to be a criminal but has no idea how to execute effective crime. It could also be somebody with a personal vendetta against you. In either case, this is not a sophisticated individual. If they were smart, they could have replaced the form after copying the information, so that you wouldn't even know it was stolen. After all, if they had an opening to steal the form, it would have simple to take a photograph of it with their phone and then replace the form into your notebook.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 09:50:28 AM by Cathy »


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2015, 09:58:30 AM »
I agree with Cathy. Most likely nothing will come from this. Just be vigilant for maybe 6 months, and then relax. The form is probably lost or thrown out. Worst case, they set up credit cards in your name, get blocked, etc... Maybe an illegal immigrant uses the SSN to get a job.

Life is not over.


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2015, 10:21:17 AM »
Probably OK, better safe than sorry.

Suggest contacting each of the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) and putting in a freeze

Service you signed up for should help in case things do happen.

Suggest using Mint or similar so you'll see immediately if something happens. Someone recently stole a password and tried to steal from me, but because of Mint I was right behind them cancelling everything and changing passwords as they went.


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2015, 10:23:21 AM »
Thanks all. I really appreciate the reassurance and advice. Just the forms are missing, not the notebook, but Cathy your points are well-taken. If I see any suspicious activity occur in the near future, I'll pretty much know where to start looking. I also don't think there's anyone here with a personal vendetta against me (I've been here all of two months), so I'm okay with going along the illegal immigrant scenario.

I guess there's not enough to really submit a police report, but I will ask HR about the office cameras, if there are any.

Tarheeldan, I do use Mint, so that's good to know! I'll get in touch with the bureaus today.


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2015, 11:37:03 AM »
I also had an identity theft scare that turned out to be nothing. For starters, the information they stole (if someone did steal it) is available everywhere - Lexis-Nexis, the doctor's office, schools, etc.

What I would recommend:

1. Freezing your credit so nobody can open up credit in your name

2. Signing up for LifeLock for one year - the expensive version - one cool thing they do is notify you of new account openings - so if someone opens a checking account in your name (with the goal of bouncing checks all over town) you will be notified (assuming the bank is large enough to be in LifeLock's network). They will also take care of all the leg work if you are compromised.

3. Get an identity theft PIN from the IRS. This way the people with your information can't file a fake tax return ahead of your real tax return and take your refund.

4. Contact you bank and brokerage firms by phone and ask them to setup challenge questions so that if impersonators call your bank or brokerage firm and ask to liquidate your accounts they will fail because they won't know the challenge question

5. Set up text alerts with your financial institutions so you get notified of every transaction or money movement

My parents were victims of four ID thefts in one year (Target, a hospital, their employer, and something else) and nothing ever came of it.

Take a deep breath, you're going to be fine. They can't take your assets if you set up precautions and they can't take out credit in your name if you freeze your credit. Except student loans - I heard those can be a nightmare to straighten out.


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Re: Lost (Possibly Stolen) Identity - is All Hope Lost?
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2015, 02:04:05 PM »
ditto what a lot of others have said.  Put a freeze on your credit report.  The people that have your info likely will not be able to do much with it.

Years ago I got a call from some dude across the country, who was calling to warn me that somehow a copy of my tax return (including SSN, name, address, banking info for refund) was floating about in music sharing site.  My guess is that my little sister (I was living at home in the early 2000s) was using some sort of music sharing service that didn't discriminate in which files were shared.  My tax return was on the family computer.

Anyway, I put a freeze on my credit for a couple of years until I was over it.  Nothing ever happened.  I wouldn't worry about trying to recover it.  Just move forward cautiously.  Good luck!


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