About four years ago, I and a friend were robbed at gunpoint leaving the Washington, D.C. club Love. It was Howard Homecoming time, the club was located near the projects, we shouldn’t have parked where we did … you can guess what happened next. I wasn't really afraid. The second I got back to my friend’s hotel room, I called my mom. I said, “Mama, I just got jacked at gunpoint. Can you look in my room and grab my card info? I need to cancel these cards immediately.”
If you’re lucky bullets will heal in time. Your credit score after someone steals your info – not so much. You’ll probably be in heaven by the time it’s above 700 again. That's why I felt so bad for our reader, Chanel, who can now add her name to the growing list of people whose identity has been stolen. She sent me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org about how becoming a victim of identity theft hurt her career chances. Here's her story:
"I left a job in Atlanta when the company I worked for began to downsize. I didn't lose my job but when several co-workers were laid-off I was forced to do their work. Consequently, I came back to Los Angeles, partly because the stress from work made living with no family nearby unbearable and partly to pursue my dream as a writer.
Soon after I arrived home, I was offered a great job through a trusty connection. It's not writing fiction, but it was an amazing opportunity. One catch: The position required a background check. To my horror, while renewing my California driver's license I was informed that I not only had a ticket (dated during the time I was living in Atlanta), but a "failure to appear." I learned that I had been a victim of identity theft. I went into hysteria. Not only had this person ruined my credit, they had gotten two traffic tickets using my identity. Why would someone be so thoughtless with my future?
I had only resolved the first ticket by mail months prior to moving back home. With my background check in limbo I made two court appearances where I presented pay stubs from my old job to prove the ticket was issued to a fraud. After some time, by the grace of God, the second ticket was dismissed.
I hope I wasn't too late. I haven't heard much from my amazing opportunity lately. My background check was on hold for so long I'm not sure of my chances anymore. Even though I explained my situation, the organization may now be entering a hiring freeze.
With my family's support I am surviving the recession but my private loans haunt me from dawn till dusk. Getting out of bed is the hardest. Looking at my credit score is the scariest.
I went to school in the AUC and I learned so much I smile everyday just thinking about it. I do not regret my education but my private loans are a nightmare. At this very moment I am pondering how I will ask my parents to make this month's loan payment. I'm already living back at home — unemployed.
I know that things are going to get much better so I just keep praying that day is tomorrow."
How often do you check your credit report for discrepancies? If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, how difficult has it been to restore your name?
Speak your peace in the comments section and email me at email@example.com.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.