Credit fraud used to be everyone else’s problem until yesterday afternoon, when it glanced off my head, leaving a small bruise.

Most credit related mail addressed in my name is either some package made to look like I’ve received a huge settlement check or it contains a plastic card is inside, inviting me to turn it into the real deal. These pieces of mail are ripped up, destroyed, and thrown away.

Sorting through this afternoon’s mail I found a letter sent to an old address from a bankish looking company. As it didn’t look like the normal infomercial-mail I opened it and began to read. Inside was a letter explaining that the credit company was working to approve the credit card I applied for ten days ago, yet I never applied for a credit card — not ten days ago, not even four years ago.

At first I thought this mail package was a lure to get me to call the company whereby I would receive a quick sales pitch about interest rates and free gifts. They even had a case reference number printed right under the date. The letter seemed more legit with the store name of the card applied for. Not wanting to take a chance I picked up the phone and dialed.

After entering the reference number at the request of an automated voice I was forwarded to an agent who stopped asking more questions when I told him my mothers maiden name, which did not match the one supplied in the credit application. Surprisingly I was not on hold for more than two seconds when the fraud department picked up the call. It was then that I began to wonder if I had caught the problem in time or if some numbnut had already purchased a Porsche using a platinum card emblazoned with my name. This guy had the only two pieces of information you need to start your own life of crime: A Social Security number and my birth date.

The fraud agent said that a person had called in and applied for the credit card by phone. His application was denied instant approval because he had problems verifying information and tried to explain that he was going through a divorce and didn’t want his former spouse to have access to the account. I tried getting the phone number used by the applicant but either they don’t collect that data, or the agent could detect that I was about to cut a bed sheet into a Batman cape and bring my new archnemesis to justice, Diablo style.

Fortunately it looks like replying to this mail saved the day and I have a new found respect for the credit card companies new application process. Not that I’m completely free of these problems but it was evident they have altered their internal policies and introduced procedures to help fight against this war on private information. A case was started and a fraud alert placed upon my credit report with the credit company. The nice lady quickly provided phone numbers to the big-three credit reporting companies in America. Placing a fraud alert through these three is the first step in effectively protecting yourself against credit card fraud. As I learn more I’ll post what I can.

I’m writing about my own narrowly avoided credit disaster because I don’t want anyone I know to fall victim to this type of crime. As a consumer you are able to order a credit hold at anytime and it’s highly recommended that you do so by calling the following credit bureaus:

Transunion: 1-800-680-7289

Experian: 1-888-397-3742And to the asshat, who’s trying to pull damage my credit and my name, stop telling people I’m getting a divorce. Of all things to do, that pisses me off the most and it makes me want to give you a VW tattoo across your chest, I’ll try not to mess it up with grill marks.

UDPATE: With the help of some Airbag readers I’ve found the FTC’s website for ID theft along with this form for filing a complaint.