Identity Theft Part 3

Counterfeit checks with our locksmith company name were created by a thief. Over 40 checks were accepted by Home Depot, CDW, O'Reilly's and PEP Boys. The checks were printed with a phony bank routing and account number. This was enough for the check approval services to approve the checks.

That was January and now at the end of April I have finally received letters from the check approval services that they have "considered my claim" and marked all the checks as fraud.

Stealing a company name and phone number was all that it took to walk away with about $10,000. Thanks to a check approval service that is ill equiped to tell a good check from a bad check, these costs will be passed on to the rest of us.

At PHS Locksmiths you will be asked for ID with all credit cards. Checks are only accepted if you have an open account or for service done at your place of residence. We thank you for understanding our caution.

Identity Theft is too easy. Part 2

Our company name was used by a thief who created checks and used them at Home Depot, O'Reilly's, PEP Boys and CDW during the month of January.

I had signed up for Life Lock a few years ago. It was a relief to talk to someone who knew exactly what I needed to do. I now have an Identity Restoration Specialist named Ty. He helped me fill out the forms about the fraud, followed up with each collection agency. He calls them every week to check on the status of each fraud case and calls me with the results.

To date one collection agency has completed its fraud process and has sent me a letter stating they have reinvestigated and found that the information provided to them is associated with fraud, forgery theft or another criminal act. The others are working on it.

I have not had any new bad check notices. I assume the thief has moved on to his next victim. 

I've heard that 1 in 8 people will be the victim of identity theft and small businesses are especially vulnerable. The Illinois Attorney General has directions on what to do if you are a victim of identity theft and how to repair credit.

Based on the personal service I have received, I would also recommend Life Lock and CSIdentity.

Identity Theft is too easy.

Our small business became a victim of identity theft this January. We shred, lock up and guard our accounts and identification numbers. But with only our name, address and phone number a thief stole our identity.

The thief, seen on video surveillance and using the name John, apparently has access to software that prints checks. He created checks with our company name, a slightly different address also on Roosevelt road, and our phone number. He used bank routing numbers and bank account numbers that were not ours.

Over 30 checks were accepted by Home Depot, CDW, O'Reilly's and PEP Boys. When the checks all came back marked Unable to Locate Account the collection agencies started calling us. Although it was clear that the checks are counterfeit, some even had the same check number, it is my responsibility to prove they are not our checks and we did not commit these crimes. 28 years of perfect credit history is in jeopardy because of the carelessness of these companies who took all these checks without bothering to call before accepting them.

So, I called the Oak Park Police department. At first they said I could not report identity theft to them because the checks were not passed in Oak Park.

After a visit to the Attorney General's website and reading "What should I do if I am an identity theft victim?" I called Oak Park Police back. The directions on the website start out "Identity theft is a felony under Illinois law. Report the fraud to your local police department as soon as possible and get a copy of the policy report."

Finally, with police report in hand, I began to fill out forms, get them notarized and send them, certified mail, to the folks who are calling me on the phone.

It has taken many hours away from my small business to provide explanation and documentation that these are not our checks and are not our responsibility. I cannot believe how easy it was for "John" to pass several bad checks at each of these companies. These companies use check authorization services, like Telecheck.

Hopefully, now that the check authorizing services are no longer approving checks for Personal Home Safety, this will stop. The bad news is my checks for Personal Home Safety will no longer be approved either.

I now have one of the identity protection products for myself and my husband. But there is no such thing for businesses.

Warning: business checks can be forged and should be taken with caution.