Case Study: Baby, You Can't Drive My Car
An Arizona woman is on the hook for a $10,000 auto loan that wasn’t hers—until an IDT911 fraud investigator steps in to help.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Linda Brittain was caught off-guard when a collections agent called to tell her she was delinquent on a $10,000 auto loan.
The Arizona resident drives a Chevy, but the agent said her name and Social Security number were attached to a loan for a Ford in South Carolina—a truck that wasn’t hers in a state where she’d never been.
“Knowing that someone had my personal information kept me awake in the middle of the night,” Brittain said.
Brittain discovered she could receive IDT911 services through her insurance company. Fraud investigator Vicki Volkert dedicated the next six months to removing the debt from Brittain’s credit record.
Volkert helped Brittain file a police report and a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission; enrolled her in a credit and fraud monitoring service; and placed a fraud alert on her credit report so lenders would have to verify requests for new credit.
Then the real detective work began. Volkert’s research revealed the debt’s byzantine path across a four-year period. Ford sold the original debt to a collections agency, which sold it to the debt collector that had contacted Brittain.
The debt didn’t appear on Brittain’s personal credit report, but Volkert knew that if she didn’t take action, eventually it would show up there.
Volkert took steps to report the loan as fraudulent with Ford and both collection agencies so the debt wouldn’t continue to hound Brittain in years to come.
“If you don’t report the fraud to the original creditor, the original creditor will sell the debt again,” Volkert said. “And a year from now Brittain would get additional phone calls.”
Eventually, the collection companies sent Brittain letters acknowledging the claim was fraudulent and absolving her of any responsibility for the debt.
“Vicki bent over backwards to resolve my case,” Brittain said. “Clearing my name of debt has been the most important point of all.”
With the worst behind her, Brittain has changed her habits to protect her identity for the future. Among other things, she only carries what she needs for the day in her wallet, shreds all personal documents, and has set up privacy and safety controls on the Internet and social media websites.
“I finally feel calm,” Brittain said, “and I’m able to rest at night.”
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