5 On Your Side

Phone Call Alerts Raleigh Man To Identity Theft

Posted November 21, 2002

— Identity fraud was the number one consumer complaint last year. As Glen Guile of Raleigh found out, it can happen to anyone.

Guile's credit problems started in January with a phone call from Lowe's Home Improvement. Guile was told his store credit card was $2,200 overdue.

The problem is Guile does not have a Lowes credit card.

After several conversations, Lowes decided it had the wrong Glen Guile. It was determined the store was looking for a Glen Guile in Tennessee and promised to clear up the matter.

"(In the beginning), I just thought it was a legitimate mistake," Guile said.

Ten months later, Guile received a letter from a collection agency demanding payment.

"I was actually quite upset when I had seen that. I wanted it resolved," he said.

Guile called the collection agency, which would not clear it up. Then he then called Five on Your Side.

After Five On Your Side called Lowe's, a representative immediately sent letters to all the credit reporting agencies explaining what happened.

That was not the end of the story.

When Five On Your Side asked Lowe's to look into how the situation started, it discovered that it was not just a mix-up -- it was identity theft.

A Lowe's representative said the person in Tennessee who got the credit card actually had Guile's name, Social Security number, and was within a digit of his date of birth.

Lowe's said because the thief put all of that information on the application, it was accepted.

"The best way I can describe it is like [I was] violated, like somebody's come and taken my stuff," Guile said.

Guile is now tracking down his credit reports, and has found at least one other problem. He said he wishes he would have found out about it sooner.

"If Lowes did resolve this originally, back 10 months ago when I got my first call in January, who knows what we could have avoided," he said.

Guile's credit report is now flagged with the reporting agencies so no one can open up any other accounts without some extra checks.


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