Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Fraud Alert In Action

So have you gotten yourself a fraud alert yet?

We placed a fraud alert on our credit reports, and promptly forgot about it. A month or so after we did this, we found ourselves at our local AT&T store, signing up for a new service package. We filled out a bunch of paperwork, and part of this involved giving them our credit card number. Now we don't have credit cards; we use debit cards, and we gave them our debit card number.

As an aside, we've used a debit card for years. We've used them to buy plane tickets, rent cars, hotel rooms, etc. We've never been unable to do something on account of not having a credit card. We did once try to rent a car through an agency whose policy was credit cards only. In that case, we found another agency which would let us rent a car with a debit card.

As the AT&T rep was running our paperwork, he said he'd they needed some additional information. At first I thought it was because we were using a debit card instead of the credit card, but in fact it was the fraud alert kicking in. While at the store, we had to get on the phone with the authorizer, who then asked us some pretty pointed questions (stuff that only we should know) in order to verify our identity. Once we got that ball rolling again, we were chatting with the store associate about the fraud alert, and he remarked that if we weren't who we said we were, we'd be having a chat with the sheriff's deputy right about now. We got all the paperwork finished and went our way.

At first I thought "What a pain to have to do this." But then I realized that if someone was trying to impersonate me, he'd have to go through the pain too, and he'd wind up being driven off in a squad car. So I'm willing to go through the extra bother for the extra peace of mind.

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