In December 1999 I received a letter from Citifinancial stating I owed them $2500 for a purchase I made with their financial institution. This seemed odd to me and I thought it was just a misunderstanding and called the company to find out what the situation was. They first confirmed with me my social security number and it was definitely mine. So then I really didn't understand what happened, but they said they would take care of it and not to worry.
In January 2000 I began receiving more and more letters saying I owed money to different companies. I was only 22 at the time and had never heard of credit reports much less of people stealing social security numbers.
I ordered all my credit reports and found upwards of $15,000 worth of merchandise and services that did not belong to me. Thankfully Experian had a local office in my hometown and I was able to meet with one of their employees and he got me on the right path.
I filed a police report with the North Carolina police department because that is where the criminal lived and gave them every bit of information I had. The FBI, secret service, and my local law enforcement agency said there was nothing they could do. I called North Carolina with the evidence I continued to collect as more and more accounts came through.
Some companies were great and took care of the problem instantly, and were very nice. Others didn't really care because they just wanted to get paid. They dragged things out much longer than necessary and I even had two companies send it off to multiple collections agencies and sold off my accounts to other companies for collection.
In October 2001 I applied for a home loan, and was under the impression that all the problems had been solved, and low and behold what did I find? Two accounts still on my credit charged off to me as bad debt that weren't mine. I have finally gotten these companies to take care of the problem with countless phone calls and badgering. It has taken almost 2 and a half years to deal with all this.
I had to ask for a copy of my police report at this time as well. The North Carolina police department sent it to me, but when I got the report I was disheartened to find all the research and information I had sent them was boiled down to one sentence, "Victim does not know the criminal or where they live." I had the woman's home phone number and address, I even got confirmation from a credit card company that this was her, but when I gave it to the police they didn't do anything about it.
Many of the articles out there right now are saying this can be taken care of in a matter of months. This is not the case, you have to stay on top of it and order a credit report every month to make sure things are going away. These companies just want their money, and they don't care if you can't get a house or car because someone stole your identity.
Put a fraud alert on your credit. Even if you have never had your identity stolen, put it there. Not being able to get instant credit is a small price to pay if you can keep your good credit in tact. The fraud alert only stays good for seven years. At that seven year point, renew the fraud alert. It is worth it.