A Happy Ending to a Potential Credit Card Fraud

By By Bryce C. Thueson, CFE, CPA

I have been waiting almost a year for the “other shoe to drop.” It has not. Maybe I am one of the lucky ones for whom the system worked.

On March 11, 1998, I got a message to call Jenny (not her real name) at the fraud division of the Bank of America. When I called back, Jenny said she had a few questions regarding my application for a credit card. What credit card? I had not applied for a credit card. She asked me several questions to make sure she was talking to the right Bryce Thueson and then asked again if I had applied for the American West credit card. When I assured her that I had not applied for any credit card she told me that the application was probably fraudulent.

You can study credit card scams and read about credit card fraud, as I have, but until it is your name on the application, you don’t really understand that sick feeling of being victimized.

Jenny said she became concerned about the application when she did a credit check. The address and employer were different but that could just indicate relocation. However , the date of birth on the application was wrong. Nice catch, Jenny! She said they would turn the application over to their fraud team and I should alert the credit agencies immediately. She even gave me the names and phone numbers of the three national credit bureaus.

I got through to TransUnion on March 11 but had to wait until the morning of March 12 to talk to Experian (TRW) and CSC (Equifax for Texas). I asked them to put a “fraud alert” on my file and to send me a copy of my credit report for verification. They all agreed after I answered several questions to establish my identity.

In the afternoon of March 12, I received a call from NB&A America bank in Wilmington, Del., concerning my application for a Club Tower MasterCard. (They noted the fraud alert on my credit file). No, I had not applied for a MasterCard. Although the banks were reluctant to give me specific information from the applications, through the questions I asked and the ones they asked me, I was able to piece together much of the data when they confirmed information I knew or guessed. Both applications had my name and social security number, but both had the same incorrect address in Seattle and showed that I worked for a Seattle company- in one case as a Director making $240,000 a year. Both applications requested an additional card for Nils Rydbeck. Two down, but how many more to go?

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