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February 2007

Identity Theft

I've been asked by several people to document my Identity Theft incident better.

Basically what happened, is that someone obtained enough information to forge checks on my checking account.  They have at the very least, both my and my husband's DL number, probably Social Security numbers, addresss, and checking account number.

Here's how I found out it happened.

I check all of my accounts daily.  I have Quicken set up download all of the accounts with my main accounts daily and I manually do other credit accounts at least twice a week, and I also check my cell phone account almost daily.  Yeah, anal, but that's what alerted me.

On Thursday, I saw an transaction on my checking account I did not recognize.  It was a check for around 120.00.   I could not see what the transaction looked like until the image had been scanned and made available, so I did not know for sure until Friday as to what was going on.

It was obviously a check not written by me, it was to a business I would use a credit card at, not a check.  The handwritten was not mine, nor did the checks look like mine.

The first thing I did was to call Chase and ask what to do.  I had to go to a local branch and will out a "fraud packet".  It wasn't a packet already sitting and ready, but something a bank officer had to go through with me.  At the same time, they put an "alert" on the account.

Basically I had to fill out a form telling them what happened.  That's where I described the three transactions we saw at that point.  Two more had gone through that day.

I also had to fill out another form, listing all the outstanding transactions. 

The good news, is that I had enough money in the account to cover all the transactions, mine and the fraudelent ones so nothing was bouncing.  That would have presented a lot more hassle.

The bank closed my old account and opened a new account, giving me free checks since we had just gotten new ones, and new debit card.

Note:  I should have taken a list of my outstanding transactions with me to the bank.  Do that if this happens.

My next step was to do a search on fraud alert credit account -- I have to thank one of my coworkers at my school for reminding me of this problem.  I got to  http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/flag.html and followed their directions.  So far, we don't have anything on our credit reports and I called the 1-800 number to put a fraud alert on our credit file.

One other thing you should do if you have a PayPal account is to change your banking account on PayPal.  I forgot to do that until a transaction came through and had to tell the payee what was going on.

That's pretty easy to do, you just add the new account and delete the old one.

If I find anything else I forgot to do, I'll document it here.


On Operating Systems

Everyone seems to be excited about Vista.  I'm not. 

I brought my Mac Mini into school yesterday and I introduced it.  At the same time, I gave every class a short "lecture" on my opinion of operating systems.

Here's it is for the readers.

I can only think of four operating systems I've liked.  Novell 3.11, the Novell that is currently running on the server, I think 5.6, but don't quote me on it, Windows 98 SP 2, and Windows XP SP 2.

So what do the 4 operating systems have in common?  Other than the fact, that most of the time they work, they aren't a X.0 version.  I hate X.0 versions of all software, they never work.

Software is exactly like pharmaticuals.  You have no clue what they are going to do and if they are going to work until they are out in the wild.  SP1 and SP2 are direct results of all the bugs found out in the wild.

So me, I'm waiting for Vista SP 2, or even 1.  If I have to buy a new computer, yeah, I'll get stuck with it until they fix it.  In the meantime, I'll run Windows XP SP2.

And why don't I like Linux, even though it's free?  It's a PITA to set up.  Operating systems should be no-brainers, in fact ALL software should be no-brainers.  It should just work.


Identity Thief

It happened to us this week.  (On both blogs on purpose).

First, I freely admit I am anal, as I told my students today, some people use a blowdryer, I use Chase.  And some other accounts.

Every day I take a shower, every day, after the shower, I sit down with the accounts and check them.  Every single one -- it's not that hard with Quicken, but I check every account that we have setup on line, including my cell phone account.  Anything, anyone could tamper with.

Yesterday, a check went through for approximately $127.00  I realized pretty quickly I hadn't written a check for that amount, but waited for a day to verify it, since the image was not available.

Someone created at least three checks, with my husband's name, his DL (which even I don't have at my finger tips), my name, my DL, and our address.  Of course, I don't put the DL's printed on the check.  I also can't write as legible as the forger.

It's been fun.  I had to close our checking account and I had to provide a list of known transactions (and darn, I should have pulled that before I left the house, I had to come back and get it).

I also put a fraud alert on our credit accounts.

My husband is happy.  Everyone whose heard the story realizes that they wouldn't have caught the problem as quickly as I did, or gotten it resolved as quickly.

It pays to be anal.


Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Proof that the best of us can be taken: Microsoft Firefox Professional

 I'll even admit to falling for a few, but when I first saw her post, I was getting ready for dog agility so I was only reading the RSS feed but bookmarked it to research later.  But at the time, I thought it was a parody site as I cannot imagine the Firefox people working with Microsoft and vice versa.  I didn't have time to look at either the Cool Cat site for real OR the other site, but once I did look at the original site, I could tell it wasn't a "real" site.  It's not professional worded. 

Following are the comments with some documentation as to the non-authenticity of this site. Thank you, friends for clarifying. I'm sure I'll get some "she's so stupid" posts but I'll leave this up to show how the best of us can be taken.

Source: Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Proof that the best of us can be taken: Microsoft Firefox Professional

And I'm not saying "she's so stupid", as I have fallen for a few. 

It's phases like  Microsoft Firefox 2007 automatically shrinks text to abysmally small sizes, so all webpage content can fit onto a single apostrophe on your final printed page.  And phrases like:  Open multiple copies of Microsoft websites in one window with tabbed browsing.

 You are not going to see things like this in a professionally done website.  Mine own, or maybe my students, but not Microsoft.  It's going to have better flow.


Texas bill proposes fine for missing teacher meetings - CNN.com

I hope this is for disclipine conferences only.  I would sure hate for it to be for missing the biannual scheduled conferences. 

Parents beware: Miss a meeting with your child's teacher and it could cost you a $500 fine and a criminal record.

Source: Texas bill proposes fine for missing teacher meetings - CNN.com

By the way, the Texas legislature usually only meets every two years, so it is a big deal when they get together.  And big ideas come out of it, fortunately not all get implemented.


Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

 And you haven't even heard the other shoe drop yet.

Oh and then there is using (abusing) the computer labs.

We don't know the full details, but it looks like we're going to have lose our classrooms for 5 days for state testing.  I don't know if these are field tests, or what.  And we also lose our labs for Louisiana State Testing ever since Katrina.  Mine will probably go first, since mine is the easiest to adapt for other purposes. 

These are labs funded to specifically teach business courses, webmastering, or programming courses, and we get moved out because someone else has taken over our equipment.

Last year, we lost the labs ever Friday to the math department, and they finally after over 12 years of asking, bought a lab specifically for the math classes to share.

More later when I have details.

Source: Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson