How Many Times Could I Be So Unlucky?
I’ve had my bank account raided by identity thieves three times. The first time, in 2012, I was a busy, stressed-out law student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., when I got a phone call from the local branch of my bank asking me to visit them in person immediately. They told me that a young woman had impersonated me using fake I.D. and had withdrawn over $26,000 from my student line of credit.
The bank refunded my money, but a year later, it happened again. This time, police caught the thief, a different woman than the first. Claiming to be me, the 18-year-old had obtained a new debit card and PIN in order to withdraw several thousand dollars from my account. The branch manager became suspicious and phoned my father, asking him for my physical description. As it happened, she looked nothing like me. The cops recognized her from the security footage and arrested her.
I insisted that the bank put a physical description or a password requirement on my file, but they told me their computer system didn’t have that capacity. Unbelievably, I was targeted again in 2014, in a nearly identical manner. This time, the thief, yet another young woman, stole almost $7,000.
I was furious with my bank and switched to a new one that agreed to require a verbal password and specific pieces of identification for anyone trying to access my account. I still have no idea why I’ve been victimized over and over again. I’d never had any indication that my SIN was compromised, and I’ve only ever lost my wallet once, when I was 14.
If you want my advice, never do business with a bank that won’t take your identity theft concerns seriously. Also, I shred all my personal documents and I’m careful about what information I give out—for example, when I return something to a store, I’ll fill in fake address information on the refund slip.
What happened over the past few years has really left a mark. I’ve had my car broken into, and it’s a similar sense of personal invasion, especially when there’s been someone walking around pretending to be you. It’s not a good feeling, and I am still reluctant to give out any personal details to anyone. I wish I could know that it won’t happen again.
If you want my advice, never do business with a bank that won’t take your identity theft concerns seriously.