Recently, I had a scare. I received this official letter from the OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY of Jennings County in Indiana. I don’t even live in Jennings County so the alarm bells were going off in my head, wondering if there had been a mistake or what possibly could have gone wrong.
Interestingly enough, I work at the Better Business Bureau, where I get calls from consumers about strange letters all of the time. The types of letters people call about vary. Sometimes, people will ask about sweepstakes, games of chance, insurance discounts, and letters from the Census Bureau, collection agencies, government agencies, etc. I do not recall hearing anything about a fake letter coming from a Prosecuting Attorney’s office, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t.
Just to give you an idea of what went into this letter; it was written on official letter head and had the Indiana State Seal. At BBB, staff sees forgeries and logo violations all of the time; but this wasn’t. In the address section, it had my name and an old address that I used in college, which I thought was odd. Then, it said “State of Indiana vs. Person XYZ” with a cause number. In the body of the letter, these words jumped out at me: “The office of the Prosecuting Attorney has filed the charges against the above defendant for: Count I: Identity Deception, and Count II: False Informing.” There also was a statement in bold that read: “Please complete the enclosed Victim Impact Statement and return to our office as soon as possible.”
At first glance when I saw the part about “Identity Deception” and saw my old address, I thought that I had been wrongly accused of ID Theft. I’m relieved that I wasn’t. After having called the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, I learned that a woman had made several hospital visits and was randomly using social security numbers, names, and addresses. Somehow, she randomly picked my social security number.
To my knowledge I haven’t had any loans or credit card applications taken out in my name. I’m certainly not going to waste any more time. I’m going to check my credit report right away and make sure that no further damages have been done. The irony of all of this is that I talk to people about Identity Theft – what to do if you’re a victim and prevention – all the time. Getting a letter accusing me of being an abuser was the last thing I was expecting. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, and hopefully damages are minimal from the one who compromised mine. I’m just thankful for the letter from the Prosecutor’s office and that they were Johnny-on-the-Spot in identifying this person. I may never have known that my identity was stolen, until some real financial damages had taken place.