7

I know, people can steal your money, or can borrow money in your name, etc. But in the end you should be able to demonstrate that you didn't do that, right?

What would worry me is somebody getting my e-certificate. That's like a passport without photo.

The question here is what's the point in checking? In the end, you'll find out and you should be able to get your money back, or not?

  • @KeithB and @mouviciel, both great answers, but I can only accept one. – GUI Junkie Oct 29 '10 at 14:02
  • It also depends on where you come from. (I assume USA?). Because whether this is a problem and how much of a problem it is depends very much on how the financial system is structured in the country you live in. – Plankalkül Oct 29 '10 at 15:12
  • @Plankalkül, I'm from Europe – GUI Junkie Oct 29 '10 at 15:44
  • Then, unless you live in UK I wouldn't be to worried about it. But of course it depends in which country you live. I can only tell you about Austria. If you check your account at the bank and your credit card institute regularly you shouldn't have a problem. If you see activities that are dubious you can cancel the transactions at least until 2 weeks after it happened and you will get the money back. And the person who wants the money has to prove it was really you. – Plankalkül Oct 29 '10 at 17:16
  • I'm in Spain, but I have no idea how this works here. Will be looking into it, and keep you all posted. – GUI Junkie Oct 29 '10 at 21:40
12

The problem is that the reason you find out may be that you are at the car dealer, picked out a car, and getting ready to sign the loan papers with your supposedly good credit, and you are denied for late payment on loans you didn't know you have. Or debt collectors start hounding you. Or you credit card interest rates go up. Or you are charged more for your insurance because you are seen as a bad credit risk. Or you can't rent an apartment. The list is almost endless.

It can takes many months and hours spent on the phone to fix these things.

8

While everything can be fixed in the end, and you can usually get all your money back, recovering from identity theft can take months or years.

In the meantime, these are some of the things which you might not be able to do:

  • Renew your drivers license or state ID
  • Receive a passport
  • Open a new credit card
  • Finance a major purchase (car, home)
  • Refinance existing credit (mortgage)
  • Open a new bank account

In addition, you could face the following events:

  • Harrassing phone calls / letters from debt collectors
  • Increased interest rates on your credit cards
  • Reduced or cancelled lines of credit

For all that, checking your credit report / score once or twice a year is probably enough. If you're planning on a major purchase, though, you should get a copy of your full credit report from all three major bureaus (Equifax, Transunion and Experian) a few months ahead of time. Even if everything on them is kosher, having that information on hand will give you a leg up when you go for financing.

4

Everything lies in In the end.

How many days/weeks/months/years can you wait for your money back?

3

Real world case:

IRS: You owe us $x. You didn't report your income from job y.

My mother: I didn't work for y. I don't even know who y is.

IRS: If the W-2 is wrong, talk to them to get it fixed.

My mother: I can't find y. Please give me an address or phone.

IRS: We can't. You talk to them and get it fixed.

I know this dragged on for more than a year, they never mentioned the final outcome and they're gone now so I can't ask.

  • 1
    Who can fix a broken bureaucracy? – GUI Junkie Nov 5 '10 at 14:48

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