For the first time in my life, I was victimized by this heinous deed. Yesterday, I received an alert from my AAA Experian monitoring service that I got a hard inquiry from American Express. I immediately called them and found out someone was applying online for an American Express Card using my name, address and social security number. I called American Express and had the card cancelled and directed American Express to reverse the inquiry. I was told the application matched my identity except for the email address. I then called the three credit bureaus to see whether I had been victimized in any other way. Fortunately, there were no other inquiries or new accounts. I disputed the hard credit pull with Experian and placed a 90 day security alert with all three credit bureaus. Finally, I filed a crime report with the local police. I spent a very stessful 6 or 7 hours working on this. Dealing with the credit bureaus was very unpleasant. Trying to navigate customer service and getting to the right people was not easy. It took me quite a while before I knew how to proceed.
Incidentally, while I was dealing with this incident, I discovered that a mortgage I refinanced last March was still listed as active on my Transunion report. So I had to call the lender to correct the mistake. I also had to offically dispute it with the credit bureau.
The most important thing I learned from this incident is that everyone should subscribe to a credit monitoring service. Because I was alerted one day after the fraudulent application for the credit card, I was able to correct the situation before any real damage was done. Today, I signed up for Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. I now belong to three free credit monitoring services that will keep me current on any changes to my Experian and Transunion credit reports. I have not found a free service for Equifax. Does anyone know one that exists?
Anyway, I was one of those people who thought this could never happen to me. I know better now.