But she still verified his birthday, social, and spelling of his name with me, because she'd received a notice from the other government agency that offers unemployment benefits that he had opened a new claim four days ago, and that he would be collecting $___ per week. While I had her on the phone, I sent him a text message asking him to answer that question, hoping he wouldn't jump immediately to the "worst-case" scenario, but also knowing that he probably would, because he's the worrier in our little family unit.
Immediately after texting back his "nope; I've never filed for unemployment ever" response, he called me to find out what the fuck. I've asked him to co-blog with me this evening, so that you don't have to assume that this tale of #Adulting is simply from my POV. So while I was attempting to reach the Unemployment Benefits Agency (not their real name) to report this apparent fraudulent activity, here's what Stephen was dealing with:
(transcribed) I informed my co-workers that I needed a moment off the floor. I then did a quick search on my phone for "identity theft" and what to do next. The site said to visit one of the three credit-reporting bureaus (I chose Equifax because it was alphabetically listed first), follow their very simple steps of calling to inform them of the situation, and go from there. They (Equifax) then informed me that they would put a Fraud Alert on my credit report and that they would forward that to the other two bureaus. So I was done in regards to that, but I should still call the bank and credit cards, etc. I then left you (me, emelle) a voicemail, asking you (me, emelle) to check with the bank to look for fraudulent activity, as well as please logging in to my creditkarma.com account and look for fraudulent activity there. I then went back to the floor (at work) until my scheduled lunch break.
Back to me (emelle): I was unable to reach a human being at the Unemployment Benefits Agency (not their real name), after working my way through the entire phone tree (SIX MINUTES), before I got to the outgoing message informing me that that office closes at noon. Every day. Noon. So I went online and found the website "Contact Us" form that I could fill out to report the Fraudulent Activity. As Stephen. Yes, I get the irony.
I filled out the form, using his contact info, and taking screenshots of each page so I could email him so he'd know exactly what "he" had reported. I also called the bank. They told me to check the accounts online. So I checked all of the accounts that have Stephen's name on them, and saw no untoward or unexpected activity. I completed the form and submitted it with the Unemployment Benefits Agency (not their real name), and then I logged in to Stephen's creditkarma account. Everything I looked at looked normal. I mean, really, if you're going to go to the trouble to steal someone's identity four days ago, why would you file for unemployment benefits rather than writing bad checks, applying for multiple lines of credit, and wiping out that person's checking account? None of it made any sense.
But I got all of my #Adulting done, sent Stephen the email with the screenshots, and then I decided I should probably get my steps in. In the meantime, Stephen had left his job, during his lunch break, so that he could do some more #Adulting.
(transcribed): On my lunch break, I went to the Social Security website to attempt to create an account and be sure that someone hadn't mucked with my benefits by claiming to be me in a situation that would require collection of benefits (disability or whatever). The website indicated that my Social Security Number was "locked" and that I could not create an account. Since I was under the impression that the instigator had both my name and SSN, and the office was directly across the street, and the phone tree indicated my wait to speak to a person would be 27 minutes, I asked to be excused from the remainder of my shift. I was told that there were plenty of personnel to cover for me, and so I should go take care of this. Whatever "this" was. So I stayed in the phone queue but went across the street to the physical office, to see which option would connect me with a person first! Upon entering the office, I was informed by the heavily-armed guard that I wasn't allowed to be on the phone inside the building. I replied that I was on the phone to them because my identity may have been stolen. No dice; he informed me I'd see a person faster than I'd reach one in the queue, and he directed me to a machine (like an ATM) for me to get a number-in-the-queue ticket (based on my arrival time and my SSN). So I sat to wait.
(Me, emelle, interjecting here): You remember that day I did all that #Adulting? What did you take away from that post? If you just said "THE MAGICAL GOLDEN TICKET THAT IS AN APPOINTMENT", then you win! Sorry, there's no actual prize.
Stephen (transcribed): Forty minutes later (or so, because who's counting?), I got to see a caseworker. He walked me through a verification process, checked my "account" to see if anyone had, in fact, begun collecting any benefits from my number, found that my account was clean/untouched. He also helped me "unlock" that account so that I can now access that info online. He also recommended that I visit identitytheft.gov to help protect my current identity. From there, I walked home.
(Back to me, emelle): while Stephen was walking home, I was walking towards him. But we got on the phone, and our paths never crossed, so I ended up getting in my steps while listening to a couple of podcasts, and when Stephen got home, he did that last thing he needed to. When I got home, I asked him to check his emails to see if the Unemployment Benefits Agency (not their real name) had responded to his Report. They had.
"Mr. Nixon, a claim has not been filed under your Social Security Number. Thank You."
WhatTheEverLovinFuck? So I called the first caseworker of the day to give her that information, and we both wished each other a good day. I said, Good Day!
So, a few things to finish with:
- There's really no reason to immediately jump to worst-case scenario, but you do have to take whatever steps are necessary to protect yourself and your assets. See #1
- Before any of this happened, my Twitterverse was blown up because of the untimely and unexpected death of Prince Rogers Nelson. Today sucked ass. See #1