Subject: Re: Identity Theft
Hello Lucy and other Ziners,

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to what you can do to avoid having your cards denied. Thank goodness, that isn't something I've encountered in a very long time (only once in London). I do call and notify them when I'm going to be out of the country.

One thing I would encourage you to do, since you've been hit, is to get a post office box for your mail, if you haven't already. From what they have already done, they clearly have your address and could give you lots more trouble if they got into your mail box. I had my wallet stolen almost two years ago now. It was a Saturday night in a store - took it right out of my purse while an accomplice distracted me. They hit four different cards for nearly $10,000 in the thirty minutes it took me to drive home and start calling. One was my debit card (for $1500) so my checking account was overdrawn. Because my daughter works out of an office at home, and her employer's mail comes here, it was imperative that we stop the mail as soon as the post office opened Monday morning and we went to a box. It would have been REAL disaster had they emptied our mailbox and gotten his financial information. It was a pain, but it was the only thing we could do.

Four months later, the police broke up this crime ring, and it was highly publicized in the media. Eight people were involved that they could verify and, because they were operating all over the state, they prosecuted them under the Organized Crime Act, which allows for tougher sentences. None of them ever went to trial. The cases against them were so solid (in my case several in-store camera pictures) they all pleaded out to sentences of 20 to 40 years, with the exception of one fence who had no past criminal record.

The credit card companies all thanked me for being so prepared. I keep copies front /back of all my cards, along with my travel documents and was able to just go down the line and call them. They told me of an additional $20,000 plus that they tried to charge that was denied because I'd already called and reported them stolen. I continue to get credit reports from the reporting agencies at least every six months (monthly initially) and check them carefully. So far, so good. It is a nightmare, and you have my sympathy.

We can never be too cautious in today's world. Good luck.

Happy days, Lou Matthews in Lakeway, TX