Thursday, December 20, 2007

Identity Theft & Alzheimer's Disease

I think most of the people who read my blog are already aware of the recent crisis in our family -- my father's rapid slide into severe Alzheimer's disease, and my family's efforts to rescue him from a gold-digging wife in Alabama and care for him properly. I haven't told that whole story yet in this blog, but I think I will soon.

What's motivating this blog entry tonight is an interesting footnote to this traumatic story. For the past two months, someone has been attempting to steal my dad's identity. About two months ago we started receiving calls from credit agencies and banks. I'm not sure how the first one knew to call here, but I'm glad they did, because they alerted us to what was going on and helped us to very quickly put a fraud alert on each of the three primary credit bureaus.

This has proven very important, as I am now receiving at least one or two additional calls each week related to additional attempts, apparently by the same person(s), to apply for credit in Dad's name.

One of my biggest frustrations is the fact that after most of these callers learn that I am not my father, they refuse to talk much further with me or divulge any information (due to "privacy" concerns) about who is making the fraudulent applications for credit in my dad's name. This despite the fact that I am my father's legally appointed Power of Attorney.

But there have been two recent breakthroughs. The first came from Citibank, which (even though they didn't give me any other information), did give me the number for their Identity Theft Solutions division. When I called this division, they were VERY helpful and actually let me listen in as they called Citibank's credit application division and asked about the return address on the application. Here is what I heard:

117 Homestead Dr., Apt. A-2
Brent, AL 35034

The interesting thing about that address is that it is less than an hour's drive from where my father used to live in Alabama.

Doing some internet sleuthing I was able to make some calls and speak with other residents in that apartment complex, but haven't yet gotten what I am confident is an accurate name for the occupant of apartment A-2.

However, tonight I had another breakthrough, thanks to Barclay's Bank. The caller (alerted not only because of the fraud alert on my dad's credit record, but also because their database showed previous fraud activity at that address) not only confirmed this address, but also gave me an e-mail address and two phone numbers associated with the fraudulent credit application:
(205) 225-4101
(205) 926-7494

The second of those two phone numbers has been disconnected and the first goes to an answering machine with a woman's voice. I have not yet obtained the name of the person or persons who own those phone lines or e-mail address, or who rent that apartment, but I am getting close.

(By the way, if you are reading this and have any information that would help me out, let me know by clicking the "comment" link on the bottom of this posting, okay? Does anyone out there know how to go about finding out who owns an unlisted phone number or e-mail address?)

Once I get an identity to go with this information, I will turn it over to the FBI. Mail fraud is a federal offense and I have some friends I can contact in the FBI's Internet crime bureau.

I am not alledging that the person(s) associated with this contact information is involved in the commitment of any kind of crime. But I'm sure the FBI would be interested in interviewing them to find out what they know.

I would like to say -- and I will close with this -- that I wouldn't be surprised if there is a special compartment in hell reserved for someone who would take advantage of a person suffering from Alzheimer's Disease by trying to steal their identity.

I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

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