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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Real-Life Horror Story: When Identity Thieves Strike Twice

Your first identity theft experience can send shudders down your spine and leave you reeling, though hopefully the ordeal ends happily. Unlike most big-budget sequels, when identity theft strikes twice, it’s a costly event that is just as horrifying the second time.

Identity Theft Horror StoryThe Discovery

One identity theft victim discovered his fate the night of a New Year’s Eve party in 2008. This may sound like the perfect setup for a holiday-themed horror flick, but this happened in the real world.

The victim, Dave Lieber, a longtime columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, received a phone call from a collections agency that claimed he owed $279 because of a bounced check written to Wal-Mart earlier that year.

The Truth

The Wal-Mart in question was not only located in a town he had never visited, but Lieber never paid for purchases at that chain with checks. He initially had suspected that the phone call itself was a scam, but when he went to the Better Business Bureau to see if the company in question was legitimate, it checked out.

The Second Time

Thirteen years earlier, Lieber first fought with an identity thief. The criminal had taken Lieber’s personal information, like his Social Security number, and opened up accounts in his name, running up debt and leaving Lieber with the bill.

Just when he thought those days were behind him, the call on New Year’s Eve set Lieber up for another battle to clear his good name. As it turned out, thieves had opened up numerous fraudulent accounts using his information.

His credit score had already been ruined the first time, but this second round of identity fraud and the recurring damage could have been caught earlier if Lieber had been enrolled in a credit monitoring program.