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Identity Stolen: Day 1

September 11th, 2009

Thursday started like normal until about lunchtime, I got a phone call at work, on the work landline number, from a company called paydayloansuk.co.uk. The ensuring conversation which was supposed to be about my recent application was no doubt confusing both for the caller and myself with me refusing to answer any 'security' questions and her refusing to release any details of my application. The conversation ended with a promise to send me a text message about the issue, no mobile phone number asked for or given. Said text message was not received and I put it down to a possible dubious sales tactic.

On arrival at home, found a stack of mail waiting my attention. First relevant letter is one from Alliance and Leicester confirming my change of address. The letter I received was the security check letter sent to the previous address so that, if I "have not requested change of address, please contact us immediately". Very good security, you would think? No, because there is no telephone number, no email address or, as I was about to find out, the all important account number. Alarm bells ringing now.

The next mail item contained a credit card with an amazing credit limit! Oh, yes, Santander, so love my credit rating. I open the next piece of mail and amazingly, the efficient people at Santander, have also sent the pin number for said credit card, obviously delivered by the same postman. This is not looking good.

Fighting against Virgin's pathetic Wolverhampton evening broadband experience, which you can take as being constant in the rest of this story, a visit to Alliance & Leicester's website informs me that A&L are part of the Santander group of companies. Rocket Science degree not required here, it is obvious what the intention was.

A browse to find contact details, and trust me, there is a lot to pick from, all part of the great customer experience that large companies now think we love, I chose the one of the numbers and made a call. Helpful not, 'call the police' and was told the fraud department only work from 9.00 to 5.00 or 5.30! Anyone who knows me, knows I am not the most pushy of people, but I pushed for a number and got one. The number given was engaged.

West Midlands Police next where I got a reference number and was told that the 'police investigate identity theft issues at the insistence of the bank' and I need to get in touch with the bank to instigate investigation. Thank you kind officer and onto the credit card next.

Two numbers - one to activate your card immediately but only open weekdays to 8pm - and a general enquiries number to call. A call to the second number, obviously not answered by in the UK and probably lunch time wherever required me to answer a security question that they have no way of verifying! The poor lad on the other end of the phone, could only verify that they had indeed issued a credit card suggested that a change of address was not on their systems, yet! He could not access A&L systems beyond that, couldn't tell me if my fraudulent friend had applied for loans, other credit cards, nothing. He did give me a number for a 'fraud' department.

The fraud department was a single person holding the fort overnight. No, she could not cancel the card and no she could not give me the number to call to cancel the card since I was obviously not a customer and she would pass the information to fraud department in the morning. 'Nothing more to be done, here'. I must say we had to end the conversation before one of us said something out of order.

Okay, obvious that A&L and Santander will have to wait for the morning. Also tried to contact paydayloansuk.co.uk (do you know how many sites do this kid of stuff at +1000% APR????) which failed.

I used to have an account with a credit checking service, maybe I could check how much damage, my fraudulent friend had wreaked on my behalf. I won't go into details but between paying and then discovering I will have to wait three working days and an account that will take five days to verify and Virgin Media's Wolverhampton experience, all I wanted was a beer and my bed.

Day two's saga starts now on Twitter - follow http://twitter.com/bencellis or search for #id2405.

[First published on my NotTheNews blog on specified date]