Archived Story

Bill Bradford: Steal my identity? Why me?

Published 7:44pm Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The first hint of trouble came in the mailbox. When I opened the letter with a Sears return address on it, I found an invoice detailing purchases to my account for “womens shoes, ladies dresses, junior wear and juvenile girl’s clothing.”

bradfordA separate entry showed billing for two items of “fine jewelry.” My total alleged indebtedness on that invoice was $252.14.

I hadn’t used my Sears credit card for several months.

My wife and I are senior citizens, so why would we be purchasing junior wear and juvenile girl’s clothing in October?

Neither of us wear jewelry and would not be purchasing those items, either.

When the statement was examined, we found a toll-free number we could call.

After wading through the automated opportunities to “say or enter your account number,” “make a payment” and “review your balance,” I found a real live person. It was Miranda!

Miranda politely listened to my story and then gave me some comforting assurances:

1.) she would take the balance owed off my account.

2.) she would refer my complaint to the Fraud Department and they would contact me.

3.) she would close the account and request that a new account be opened and a new card sent to me.

A few days later, I did receive a new card in the mail.

Last week, a month after my conversation with Miranda, I received a phone call from Brandy of CitiBank. She was somewhat brusque and wanted to know if I wouldn’t like to immediately make payment for two months delinquency on my Sears account.

When I carefully explained the history of the matter, Brandy was somewhat more calm. She gave me the toll-free number for the Fraud Department and offered to transfer my call to that department.

I accepted her offer.

When Joan, in the Fraud Department, picked up my call she was very helpful. She noted:

1.) no previous referral had been made to the Fraud Department.

2.) the charges in question had evidently been the result of a transaction in New York. (I had not been to New York in years. Neither had I ordered by catalog or Internet.)

3.) when a Sears customer is asked, “Do you have a Sears account?” if they respond, “I don’t know” the clerk may then ask them for their Social Security number. If the number given matches a Sears account, then the transaction may be billed to that account.

4.) I should receive in the mail from Sears a letter asking me to sign that the charges were not mine.

Miranda was apparently phoning me from Kentucky.

The CitiBank phone call appears to have originated in Nevada.

Sears Security Services are in Sioux Falls, S.D., and this old man in Michigan feelshis Social Security number has been misused and then he was given the “run around.”

I have cut up my new card and requested Sears to close that new account.

I do not want to use a credit card that is only good in one store.

Two of the Sears locations will receive from me this week a letter detailing my claim that charges were assessed to me erroneously and those letters are by certified mail requesting confirmation of delivery.

I am hopeful no further harassment will occur.

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