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I got a notice that there was an ACH withdrawal yesterday from my checking account of $225.38 by OPENSKY PHONE PMT. I'd never heard of OpenSky before and I'm not sure what a "phone pmt" is. I called my bank to contest it and I asked for my money back, so hopefully that will work.

My question is whether this is identity theft? I can't find a phone number to call OpenSky to ask for what they know. Maybe this was just an accident, but my identity was stolen in June to apply for credit cards and mobile phone accounts, so I know my name, SSN, former home address(es), and birthday are out there (thanks, Equifax). I don't see OpenSky on the "credit report" my bank offers, but I already used my legit free credit reports in June.

Is my checking account number is also out there now too?

Update Aug9: My bank reversed the charge. I still intend to call them to see if I can learn anything more about how this happened and if I should do anything else.

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    If your identity was stolen, it may have been used in some foreign country, where OpenSky exists as a company. Alternatively, there are some companies that show legit transactions under a different name on your bill (Not really sure why myself.) In either case, sounds like you already did the right thing in contacting your bank. They should get to the bottom of it and help you determine if it's legit or not. – Steve-O Aug 7 at 13:56
  • This is the reverse of what happened to us once. We got a large payment on our phone bill but it didn't come from us (we use auto-pay). I called the company to figure out what was up, how to reverse it, etc, but they were of no help really, pretty much saying that it should come off if it was an accident, but it never did so we had free phone for a few months. – topshot Aug 7 at 15:10
  • OpenSky is a well known issuer of low end credit cards, especially secured cards issued w/o a credit check, in the US. Might be someone used your check info to pay their bill. – doug Aug 14 at 20:31
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You have done the right thing by contacting your bank immediately. Be sure to follow up with them regularly (weekly is very reasonable if you haven't heard from them on status), provide any paperwork promptly (filling a form claiming this was not an authorized payment, for instance), etc.

You will also want to talk with your bank about the potential to change account information. This will be down to risk of more such transactions vs inconvenience - if you have a lot of things tied to your bank account it might not be worth the trouble for a one time issue. But it is possible that you will want to, or the bank will recommend, closing/re-opening your account with new information (all new account number, cancel all attached cards, etc.).

For now, I would suggest you treat the account as "potentially compromised". Be in a position where if the account is closed tomorrow you will be OK, having money in another account, having cash, etc. Make sure you can make your housing payment (if you have one), pay for food and transportation for the month, etc. This is an "abundance of caution" approach, but it basically just means you are prepared for the worst-case scenario of being without that particular account/banking service for a few weeks. It should not be that disruptive to you, but good to be prepared.

As for identity theft, this is actually a perfect description of the problem inherent with identity theft - you are unlikely to have any way of knowing the cause or the source. There are so many leaks that it could have been related to Equifax, or it could be one of the other countless leaks that are known, or it could be part of a leak that is not yet known, or it could be something else entirely. There are so many possibilities!

Dealing with unauthorized payments is now the norm. It is part and parcel of financial life in our age now, and while you can try to minimize its likelihood of occurrence, I believe the better strategy now is to assume it will happen on occasion, perhaps at least once a year, and prepare accordingly. Don't rely on any one account to be 100% available and working 24/7, don't have all your money in one place, and make sure you review all your spending/transactions at least monthly (I find it is harder to remember what is what after a whole month, so weekly or bi-weekly may be easier for you). You don't have to do anything wrong for something like this to happen - it just happens now.

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    Wow! I can only remember one incorrect withdrawal from one of our accounts in the last 40 years (and another time we complained when it turned out to be legitimate - name on statement didn't match trading name). – Martin Bonner supports Monica Aug 7 at 16:06
  • @MartinBonner It certainly didn't use to be like this at all. I use my checking for less, so I haven't had an issue, but with credit cards I still end up with at least some form of issue more or less yearly for the last few years. One unauthorized charge in the decade before would be a more accurate estimate. Digital payments are just incredibly prone to fraudulent use. – BrianH Aug 7 at 17:06
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    I'm in Europe. I wonder if this is a difference between Chip+Pin and magstripe+signture? – Martin Bonner supports Monica Aug 7 at 17:10
  • @MartinBonner Credit card skimmers are very common, and physical dupes of the stripe are a big source of it - but pulling the number to use online or over the phone is big too. Checks are still somewhat popular here, leading to common check fraud and hits to checking accounts. Then you've got all the data breaches of improperly stored data, mail theft from unsecured boxes, and there's so many sources of loss and organized crime demand for stolen info worldwide that it is surprising it isn't even more common than the crazy levels it has already hit. CC and debit card is super common to use too. – BrianH Aug 7 at 19:03
  • Did you mix up "montly" and "weekly" in the last paragraph? It sounds strange to say "weekly is fine too, BUT ..." – Henning Makholm Aug 9 at 12:18

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