Identity theft

I spent over 12 hours on the phone during my week at home dealing with the repercussions of identity theft. Some bastard got ahold of my back account numbers, ssn, mother's maiden name, address, etc. and left a trail of new credit card accounts for me to track down. It didn't help that I was in Papua New Guinea when I found out. Luckily, I have someone at my bank looking out for me, and I also pay for American Express's Credit Secure service, which has just paid for itself many times over because the fraud specialists are so good.

After hours of phone time, the new credit accounts have been closed, bank account numbers changed, passwords added, and an alert placed with all of the credit bureaus. Letters are en route to officially contest credit inquiries and accounts on record. I also filed an official complaint with the FTC and, and have a suspect's name and address cobbled together from the new account information (probably bogus).

And so, armed with 30 pages of supporting documentation, a photo ID and proof of residence, I walked into the Oakland Police Department to file a police report. The officer behind the counter took a look at my stack of papers.

"Our computer won't process those," she said, pointing at the FTC Identity Theft complaint form and other documents, even though the FTC says to bring the form in when you file a complaint.

She gave me a police report form that had about an inch of space for the details of the crime, and pushed a pen across the counter.

I don't suppose there is any way a police report filed in Oakland is going to have any effect, especially when I can't even get the information I have into the system. The only thing you get out of it is a document report number, which I guess is necessary for other parts of the I'd theft recovery process.

Speaking of broken systems, I called Cingular to add a discounted international roaming option to my account after being charged obscene amounts of money for using my phone in Singapore and other countries (it would have been cheaper to use a sat phone) . "Ok, sir. I've added the discount roaming option to your voice plus blackberry international unlimited data plan."

I didn't buy it. "Just to clarify: the data portion of my plan is unchanged, right? It will work as it did before?".

"Yes, sir."

Ten minutes after I hung up, my Blackberry stopped receiving mail.

Every single time I've called in to make a change to my account, my Cingular service has broken. The sheer incompetency is impressive..

Also, my computer's video card is defective, and one of my cameras broke when I was in Canada last week.

The lesson? Don't buy new stuff, and if something is working, don't rock the boat. It's times like this when I think of how much fun I have when I am traveling somewhere and have no internet access and limited access to electricity.

Oh yeah, I had a great time catching up with friends while I was home. I am so glad to have them...

*UPDATE* Whoever answers the phone at the Oakland police department is absolutely the rudest person I've ever talked to. And you can't do anything about it because they are the police.