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Officer, someone stole my identity

by Melanie Proulx March 15, 2016
Officer, someone stole my identity

Identity theft left me disoriented and wandering in circles

I was emotionally exhausted and fought back tears as I headed straight to the Virgin Mobile kiosk. I had just spent hours on the phone arguing with them, and it was hard to believe that my final semester had taken such a dramatic turn for the worse.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

It all began a few months ago. I loved my classes, my teachers were wonderful mentors and for the first time in my life, I had A’s in all my classes, which was very important since I was applying to graduate school.

Unfortunately, my joy eventually came to a halt when I received a letter from a phone company I never dealt with. The letter stated that I owed them hundreds of dollars.    When I called them to inform them this had to be a mistake, they told me someone must have stolen my identity and I had to go to the police.

I did go to the police. I skipped class and waited five hours for the officer to arrive because all units had an emergency to deal with. He called back a few days later saying the case was cold and would remain that way unless new evidence arose. In other words, the police were no help at all but I was determined to prove my innocence.

The next step was even more time consuming and frustrating; I had to notify all my creditors and it took hours on the phone. I called seven different numbers to finally get the right one, and sometimes, when I’d call the wrong one, they would just tell me I hadn’t reached the right department and had to call elsewhere. They wouldn’t transfer me or tell me how to reach said department! When I finally got through to them they told me there was nothing that could be done because according to the phone company the account was valid.

The worst part of the whole ordeal however, was the countless times I contacted the phone company to argue that my account was not valid. They kept transferring me from department to department. Each time I had to re-explain my story until I eventually spoke to the proper representative. She kept going around and around in circles telling me there was nothing I could do. The last time I called, my boyfriend noticed I was on the verge of tears so he took the phone and was more forceful, but no matter what he said the representative would not hear me out nor let me speak to her manager. After many hours completely wasted on the phone, and my finals quickly approaching, I gave up. My grades were starting to slip and I could not let that happen.

The next morning, I headed down to the phone company’s office and told them that I was the victim of identity theft, but wanted to pay the bill to clear my credit record.  The representative refused to let me pay the bill and started to argue with me, “But that’s not right,” to which I responded, “What do you want me to do? I can’t get a job now because of my credit!” Her co-worker then asked, “Why don’t you call the identity theft department?”  That was the first time, in all the hours and painstaking days I spent talking to them, that I was told the phone company had an identity theft department. It turns out only employees of the phone company can call the department, which is why I couldn’t find it. Still, why didn’t they transfer me there in the first place? Victims of identity theft spend an average of 600 hours recovering from the crime, often over a period of years according to Idalerts.com, meaning that recovering from identity theft is a lengthy process.

The theft specialist and I were finally able to find out who stole my identity. My knees buckled underneath when I realized who it was… someone very close to me. I don’t blame her for what she did, she couldn’t get a phone because of her bad credit rating, so she used my name instead. I didn’t press any charges and in fact I’m still friends with her today. Why? I sincerely believe that people can change. However, take it from me, be very careful who you trust.

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