My Identity Was Stolen (& How To Prevent It From Happening To You)

So last Friday was my last day of work before I took off on my vacation. I was sitting at my desk working when I get a phone call on my work phone and I answer. On the caller ID it said, Mesquite Pol, but I wasn’t sure if it was legit. There was a gentleman on the other end of the line asking for me. I shyly answered, “Yes?”, and he said “You’re not in trouble or anything, but it has come to our attention that someone stole your driver’s license information. (GASP!) There are two individuals and they checked into a hotel here in Mesquite with your driver’s license. They stole a flat screen TV out of the hotel room. (Are you serious?!) Again, you’re not in trouble or liable for the TV, but do you know so and so?”. Of course he told me their names, but I’m not going to post it here on the blog. I answered, “No, I have no idea who they are”.

It seems that two individuals did indeed steal my driver’s license information and I have no idea how they got it. I haven’t been broken into, or had my car broken into. I was honestly shocked that this happened to me because I’m always careful. Then again, you can never be too careful.

Once I got home, I did my due diligence and called the Austin police and filed a police report. The officer came to my apartment and took down my information and I gave him the detective’s information who is investigating the case. After all this took place, something he informed me about protecting my information was news to me that I thought to share with you guys so that this horrible incident does not happen to you either. Of course, some of these you may already know, but let’s just remind ourselves in case we put it in the back burner.

Shred E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

The officer told me that you should never throw away junk mail with your address on it because thieves can use that to steal your information. Also, don’t throw away the pre-approved credit cards because they can activate them. I had no idea about that and it rocked my world. So basically shred junk mail, spam credit cards, everything – capiche?

Don’t leave anything in your car

Be sure to never leave anything in your car that has your address on it; that can even be receipts from a bodyshop, magazines, catalogs, Amazon receipts or packages, nada, zip, zilch! Clean out your glove compartment if you need to because sometimes you may keep your insurance card in there, take that baby out and keep it in your wallet.

Always double check when you step out of your car that you don’t drop key items, like your wallet. One time I dropped my wallet in the parking lot and the movie theater saved it and called me to let me know. If that had gotten into the wrong hands, ain’t no telling what could’ve happened.

Monitor your credit

I’m pretty good at this, but you never know. Always check your credit, if not monthly, at least quarterly. I recommend Score Sense, Privacy Guard and Credit Karma. They usually offer a free trial for the first month. If anything looks suspicious, report it to the credit bureaus and they will handle it from there.

Clear out your cookies

I’m just throwing this out there because you could also be hacked digitally. It’s good to change your password every so often, even if it’s tedious because it’s a small price to pay than the alternative. Also, delete your cookies so that you’re not giving a thief a free ride into your important accounts you usually log into.

Avoid any suspicious emails and/or click on the link

Last month my email for my blog got hacked. I have no idea how they got into it because it’s not a gmail account. It’s through my host company and that’s not that easy to get into, or so I thought. Also, last month my company got hacked and some hacker was sending emails to all employees to click on a link they sent. So if my company that is international can get hacked, no one is really safe. Just don’t click on the link they put in the email because that’s when you let the hacker in through the door, VIP style. Womp womp.

What’s crazy is that this happened the LAST DAY of August. Remember how I said that something crazy always happens in my life in August? I’m just glad it’s now September. Lord have mercy.

I’m also glad that the police did their job and caught these suspects. He told me that he doesn’t think they have any other important information of mine, other than my license. Keeping my fingers crossed. So I may have to request to get a brand new driver’s license number just in case. Sigh. This is such a scary thing and I truly hope that’s the end of it. My mantra for this rings so true: Better to be safe than sorry.

Have you ever had your identity stolen? What happened and how did you handle it? If you have other tips, please let me know in the comments!