Identity theft isn't fun

Being a victim of identity theft has become an unfortunate rite of passage for many people in this crazy digital age, and I just earned my merit badge.

On Friday, I bought a couple of burgers and a Coke at Rally’s. I used my debit card.

When I got home and sat down to record the amount in Quicken, I realized I’d left the receipt at work. So I hopped online to check my bank balance.

There was the charge for the burger.

But there was another charge made that afternoon. A $1 pre-authorization by Yahoo Wallet.


So I called Yahoo Wallet, and was told that the charge was made because I’d just signed up for their services, which include easy, one-stop checkout for thousands of online merchants.

Only I hadn’t done that.

She looked up the transaction by my debit card number and told me that the account had been registered with my name, my address and my debit card number, including the three-digit security code on the back of the card.

Only I hadn’t done that.

And of course they couldn’t tell me who (as in an email address) set up the account, because that’s confidential information, even though the jackass who set up the account was using MY confidential information.


She gave me an email address to send a complaint to.


So now I’m waiting several business days to hear a response from that.


So then I called my bank, and had them kill my debit card. The person who set up this account hadn’t purchased anything yet, but they were definitely getting ready to go on a shopping spree. Such thieves typically use other people’s credit cards to buy things like digital downloads that don’t require anything being shipped. That’s where they get you.

And then I had to go down to the bank in person so that they could give me temporary online access so that I’ll be able to monitor my account from home.

I’ll get the replacement debit card in 7-10 business days.

Then I visited the Federal Trade Commission’s website and followed the steps.

I had to freeze my credit.

But I was able to view my credit report for free from the big three credit agencies, and there was no suspicious activity.

You should really do this, by the way.:

Free Annual Credit Report 

You’re able to request your full credit report once every year from each of the big three.

Please, please do this. It will cost you nothing, and it could save you everything.

And then I filled out a huge report on the FTC’s website, and I expect to be contacted by someone from the FTC next week.

So I’ve got lots of paperwork and frustrations to look forward to over the next few weeks, but at least they didn’t get anything.


Oh, well.

I’d like to give a special thank-you to the Rallyburgers that indirectly rescued me from being cleaned out.


  1. You were lucky to check your card quickly otherwise the damages may be more than US$ 1. It’s difficult to predict how long the effects of identity theft may linger. That’s because it depends on many factors including the type of theft, whether the thief sold or passed your information on to other thieves, whether the thief is caught, and problems related to correcting your credit report.

    Victims of identity theft should monitor financial records for several months after they discover the crime. Victims should review their credit reports once every three months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter. Stay alert for other signs of identity theft.

  2. Jeff says:


    Can I view my report for free online at the FTC website? I went to that link above and didn’t see that information right away on how to view one’s report….

  3. John says:

    Hi, Jeff,

    You can check it for free, once a year, right here, with each of the big three.

    Thanks for letting me know about the omission; I’ll amend the post.

  4. Jeff says:

    Yeah, I did a general search and got this site….but it isn’t a .gov address, and it looks almost too “shiny”, I was suspicious…

    But you’ve actually gone there and requested a report and trust the site?

  5. Kerstin says:

    I had an unfortunate experience with this once. Only my bank caught it before I did. Apparently, someone in the Netherlands had obtained my credit card info and was signing up for a bunch of porn sites.

    So glad you caught it before they made a major purchase on your dime!

  6. darkhonor says:

    Our bank is so on top of identity theft that they call us when my husband spends $5 at the BK he spends $5 at every day. We really appreciate their alertness.

    Hope you have a credit card for the Christmas shopping! :) (or a checkbook maybe.. I hear some people still use those)

  7. Chris says:

    John, I had the exact same thing happen to me – a $1 authorization to my credit card, from Yahoo! Wallet, transacted on December 17th, 2007. I contacted my credit card issuer and had them nuke the account as well.

    Good luck tracking down the culprit!


  8. bluecollar49 says:

    Hi John.
    Sorry to read about your predicament, but at least you caught it early and were able to nip it before any real damage was done.

    Well, hope everything else is well for you and yours and here’s to a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.


  9. John says:

    Kerstin: Kerstin! I only owe you, like, 47 emails. I wonder how Netherlands porn is different from American porn. Probably a lot more windmills and clogs. That’s just a guess. Not that I’d know from experience, or anything. Did you have to do anything else after your bank caught it?

    Jen: I do have a credit card for Christmas shopping, and once I get my debit card and bank account sorted back out, I’ll change the number on my credit card, too. And it’s a good thing I don’t live near a Burger King, because if so I’d have been dead from Whoppers a long, long time ago. :)

    Chris: Thanks so much for the comment and the input. Sounds like those Yahoo! Wallet folks need to clamp down on their security. So far all I’ve gotten is one automated answer after another. It’s like they try to find an automated email that’s relatively similar to your complaint, and send that out instead of a personal message relating to your specific complaint. Unbelievable! Oh, well. It is what it is, I guess.

    Lew: Thanks for the good words and the kind Christmas wishes. All the best to you and your family this holiday season, as well!

  10. Bobbie says:

    Phew John. Close call.

    Want to hear something weird. I lost my debit card a few months ago and didn’t realize until I got home from work the same day. I had no idea where I had lost it. I called to report it and someone had reported they FOUND it! It had already been shut down by my bank. Small miracle.

    I asked the bank if I had to do anything else but they never mentioned that I should go to the FTC site.

    Sorry you had to go through all the aggravation.

  11. I had exactly this happen to me – right down to using Yahoo! Wallet, only, this is nuts but, the check-card involved is one that I have not used in many months, and on which I recently switched the address to a PO Box. Whoever stole my information got it after I stopped using it, since they had the new address. I’m quite stumped. Anyway, thanks for blogging about your experience – I followed your instructions and will monitor my reports, going forward.

    My thief did get around to going on a shopping spree, at Neiman Marcus, online, but, my bank denied the charges because there wasn’t that much money in there. My money is in other bank accounts. :)

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