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New Mexican (Newspaper) - October 2, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico CONSUMER NEWS ID theft It can happen to you ByMikeWendland Detroit Free Press DETROIT Know those sorcalled convenience checks that you keep getting totally unsolicited from credit card companies each month as an inducement to get you to go deeper into debt They even print those checks up with your name and address to make it so easy Thieves used those checks to bilk my neighbor and myself out of more than I noticed last month the theft of my mail from the box out in front of my house The same thief apparently stole my nextdoor neighbors mail too I noted then how I had an ominous feeling about it I was right My August bills are starting to come in and so far Ive been taken for more than on two Chase creditcard accounts My neighbor Ron was hit for on a CitiCard account I was taken through just one of many variations of identity theft which the Federal Trade Commission says claims nearly 10 million victims annually with direct monetary losses of million a not counting the cost of time and the mess of trying to straighten out ruined credit Identity theft topped the FTCs list of consumer complaints for the fifth year in a row last year accounting for 39 percent of com plaints received by the agency Im really steamed The creditcard companies make it so easy for the thieves While I dont have to pay these illegal charges the total losses from my neighbors account and my accounts plus will ultimately be passed on to all of us through higher banking charges I promptly reported the thefts to Chase Theyre sending me paperwork to fill out and they claim my credit rating will not be adversely affected Well see I discovered the fraud when I got my monthly statement on one Chase card last week It showed an Aug 25 convenience check for written to Dr Cree To that Chase added a transaction finance Thats why banks love to send us these checks so they can collect transaction finance charges on top of interest charges that usually start to accrue the second the check is cashed The very next day came the statement for another Chase card It showeda convenience check written to Stanley Mason Naturally there was also another transaction finance I dont know anyone named Dr Cree or Stan ley Mason Jr When I called Chase to report the ripofts the phone adviser transferred me to the fraud depart ment Someone named Josh answered I asked for his last name so I would have a record of our conversation He said he was not required to give that to me Thats a fine way to start a conversation I asked him where he was He said Manila 22 SUNDAY Oct 28 2005 The New Mexican magazine Jim Worth StarTelegram
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