Beware of Identity Theft!!!
We hear about this all the time, but are we prepared? Can we be prepared?
About a week ago, I received a notice of collection from Safeway Stores. I was shocked! I could not believe what I was looking at. Upon examining the letter, I noticed that the check was on an account that is not even mine! I had never even done business with that bank!
The checks were fraudulent: They were printed with my name, my neighbor's address, a correct routing number. They also had fake phone numbers for the bank, and me; the branch does not exist! How could Safeway accept such a check?
I immediately called Safeway. They just wanted me to pay what was owed; I explained that the check was not mine. The representatives of Safeway were so rude and condescending. I could not believe that they accepted a fraudulent check and then had the nerve to treat me this way. They demanded information, but would not reciprocate. They just wanted to know my correct address, phone numbers and employment information. I could not even get information about where the check was written! They said that I needed a police report. I felt as if I was in some communist country called Safwayikstan! Guilty until proven innocent!
I contacted the Zillah Washington Police Department immediately. Officer Steve Gay went out of his way to help; he even suggested a few things we could do to protect ourselves. I had heard of police departments that were not willing to assist; luckily, I live in Zillah!
I contacted the bank whose information was printed on the check. The branch manager was so helpful and willing to assist in any way possible. She contacted Safeway to explain that the check was fraudulent and that I had never banked with them. Safeway only brushed her off! Her willingness to assist makes me want to start banking with them as soon as this is over!
Meanwhile, my neighbors have been receiving additional notices and returning them to sender. Now they are planning to save them for me, but they do not know how many there were. Just today, there was one from another store. How many more will follow? Will they all treat me like the associates from Safeway?
I contacted all three credit bureaus to place fraud alerts. I hope that this will help, but it will not stop people from creating fake checks. There is no way to stop these stores from cooperating with criminals! Safeway and other stores should try to assist victims; after all, they have contributed to the act!
May I suggest that you contact your insurance agent to see if you have coverage for Identity Theft on your homeowners insurance or renters insurance? If not, look at other options!