I woke up this morning and randomly opened up the Credit Karma iPhone App (I'm kind of obsessed with having a perfect credit score). I noticed my credit score dropped a couple of points and started to investigate why. To my surprise, there were three new hard inquiries all made on January 10th (3 days ago). They listed T-Mobile, AT&T, and Citibank Best Buy.
This has never happened to me before, and I've heard many horror stories of stolen identity, so I wanted to get this resolved as quickly as possible. I did a Google search for what to do, and I didn't find anything other than calling the three big credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. I didn't want to call them yet because I wanted to do my little investigation first.
The first company I called was T-Mobile since their number showed up on my credit report. It was a bit of an awkward call but after explaining my situation they were able to direct my call to correct department. I had to give them my social, and they did a quick lookup to see if there was indeed an account. Sure enough, another Brandon Brotsky that had the same billing address ordered four phone lines with four iPhones (6s+ 128gb), they even got insurance on the phones. The representative apologized for all the trouble and proceeded to help me fix this. Apparently, I have 30 days to cancel the phone plan but since there is equipment (the almost $4,000 worth of phones) they had to go through another step to verify everything. They are getting back to me in a week, and they told me everything will be okay, and I won't be responsible for anything. They were not able to tell me what location opened the account other than that it was an in-store purchase.
The AT&T call was more awkward than T-Mobile since I didn't know what service the scammer signed up with or what service they were using. I guessed the mobile phone service and called one of AT&T's 100's of customer service lines, luckily my second choice got me talking to a representative. I explained the situation and, like T-Mobile, they were able to help me resolve the fraud. The scammer also opened up four phone lines with another four iPhones. Of course, they got the 6s+ 128gb because that is the most expensive. The representative told that there was no question in her mind that this was fraud since the phones weren't even being used and they signed up at an Apple Store that is in San Diego, about 3 hours away from my home. After passing me from person to person they told me it will be resolved, and they don't need anything else from me, and I won't be responsible for the fraud.
Citibank Best Buy
My third call was no longer awkward because I had already become an expert with my experience from T-Mobile and AT&T. Citibank Best Buy was also the most helpful. Although they were no able to give me much information about what Best Buy the scammer signed up they were able to help me resolve this issue more than T-Mobile and AT&T. After giving my information to the customer representative they told me that there was indeed an open line of credit, yet there was no balance on the credit card. They cancelled the card and then helped me get in contact with TransUnion.
While I was still on the line with Citibank Best Buy, I started conversations with TransUnion. The Citibank Best Buy representative was able to give my information, so I didn't have to repeat myself too much. I had to verify a few things, and they began helping me to prevent future issues. They put a note on my account that there had been some fraud and put in an additional security measure to make sure this is less likely to happen again. For the next seven years, when a creditor does an inquiry, I will receive a phone call that asks me if it is a legitimate inquiry or not. This will make it much hard for someone to impersonate me. The representative also put in a request for the hard inquiries to be removed from my credit report, so my credit score returns to what it was before this incident.
My Next Steps
According to IdentityTheft.gov, I have already completed the first two steps. The next steps are to follow up with an FTC complaint and file a police report at my local police station. I have not done this yet, but I do plan on it after I receive some documentation that these companies are supposed to send to me so I could build a case against these scammers.
While this was kind of a headache to wake up to it was pretty fun to track everything down and it was fun figuring it out. I was surprised how easy it was to work with these companies and how helpful everyone I spoke to was. Most importantly, I am very grateful for Credit Karma because they helped me fix a problem before it started affecting my future. Being able to fix this only three days after the incident happened helps me to have a more credible case with a lesser impact on my credit score. Thank you Credit Karma, T-Mobile, AT&T, Citibank Best Buy, and TransUnion for helping me resolve this situation, it is appreciated!