My Experience with Identity Theft & My Stupid Mistake

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 Surviving a Teacher’s Salary aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews. All opinions are always my own.

 Our nightmare started 4 years ago. I was quite pregnant with my 2nd son and had driven to my husband’s school at 3:30 pm when the students were all leaving school. Buses were loading up, people were everywhere. I left everything in the car, locked it, and ran into my husband’s classroom just across the field for 15 minutes so my son could see daddy before we headed back home. Fifteen minutes……that’s all it took for someone to bust in my car window and steal my purse….during the busiest hours of school. The busiest time – there were people everywhere! School buses with kids in the parking lot – I was parked right by the school buildings! And not only that but there were three of us that had smashed in windows and purses stolen. It was my own dumb fault – I let my guard down and left my purse in the car. I got too comfortable with just running into my husband’s classroom for 10-15 minutes at a busy time of day and assumed my purse was safe inside my locked car. It turned out to be such a disaster for months!

Thankfully I was able to call the credit card company right away and freeze my accounts. Only $6 had made it onto my card from the thief. Unfortunately our bank accounts were drained before I could freeze them. Every penny gone in an instance. It was devastating. It was our entire savings and everything we had. Eventually we got our money back but our accounts were frozen for a month which spiraled into late bills and fees on everything we owed. We thought we were OK because we had cancelled everything and set up new account numbers. Until the next month rolled around and one day I realized that our bank accounts were drained AGAIN! We had JUST put changed to brand new account numbers and everything. On an oversight from the bank they actually handed over my BRAND NEW account number to someone in the drive thru that claimed they forgot their account numbers! I’m not kidding! I was livid! So guess what happened? Another freeze on our account for a month. Which meant more bills were late, more fees incurred….it was SUCH a headache. WHAT A MESS! I had no idea if the thief had obtained my social security number, other bank accounts….it was a terrifying feeling and left me quite paranoid for a long time!

I REALLY wish I had signed up with LifeLock before all of that mess happened. No, it wouldn’t have prevented me from making a stupid choice but it sure would have made me feel better about having the “good guys” on my side! They could have helped me keep a proactive eye on things and helped me stay vigilant against future identity theft attacks. Although it’s now been four years since this mess all happened I’m still concerned that one day it might come back to haunt me.

Here are a few tips, that I have learned from experience to help protect yourself from identity theft:

*NEVER EVER leave your purse/wallet in the car. Even if you’re in your driveway!

*ALWAYS have your credit card company and bank fraud department phone numbers and account numbers written on a piece of paper and hidden in your house somewhere so that you can immediately call and access your account information in case of fraud.

*When in DOUBT – DON’T do it! Don’t travel with extra credit cards or bank cards.

I definitely recommend checking out LifeLock. It was actually one of the first things that we did after our nightmare occurred. Not checking them out sooner was another dumb mistake!

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