Henrico woman falls victim to identity theft multiple times
HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico woman is furious that someone has stolen her identity and used it to make fraudulent transactions.
Not a day goes by when Tracy Garland says she doesn't receive a phone call from a business or creditor asking about a debt she never created. Now, she's worried about her own credit.
A few years ago, Garland traveled to Oklahoma for a court proceeding involving a woman with a similar name - Traci Garland. That Garland was convicted in reference to the fraud.
The Henrico woman thought the matter was settled - until she received a letter from the District Attorney in Oklahoma, alleging Garland had struck again. Now, the phone calls have returned.
"She's a career criminal. That's what she does," Tracy Garland said.
They have the same last name. Tracy lives in Henrico. Traci, the convicted identity thief, lives in Oklahoma.
"She's rented an apartment in my name. Of course, she didn't finish paying the rent. She had Cox Cable. We don't even have Cox Cable or Cox Utilities here … I have four pages where she went through, where she was trying to get credit," Garland said.
It got so bad, she received a call from the district attorney in Oklahoma.
"They contacted me and asked - if they flew me out there, would I agree to testify? And I did," Garland said.
It led to a criminal conviction. Traci Garland was found guilty of writing bogus checks, identity theft and multiple fraud charges. She was locked up.
"I thought it was over. I knew it was over," Garland said.
Five years later, Garland got a surprising letter, again from the district attorney's office.
"I am so sorry to learn Traci Garland is once again fraudulently using your identity ... What a shame it is that Traci Garland did not learn anything from her imprisonment," Assistant District Attorney Martha McMurry wrote.
"It's awful," Garland said.
What do you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? According to the FTC, you should contact the companies where fraud occurred.
Ask them to close or freeze your accounts, so no one can add new charges without your consent. Then, change your logins, passwords, and pin numbers.
Contact one of the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your account:
- Experian.com/fraudalert or 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion.com/fraud or 1-800-680-7289
- Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance or 1-888-766-0008
That makes it hard for someone to open a new account in your name.
Then file a report with the FTC. Go to IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338. Include as many details as possible.
Garland has a message for the other Garland who is allegedly back on the job.
"Why don't you just stop and get a job like other people? I've worked since I was 16 years old. You need to work too. It's hard out here, but you can't just go and keep stealing people's identity. I'm paying the price for it. I'm working everyday, and I can't even do what I want to do," she said.
Garland says she needs a loan for a new roof for her home, but she fears she'll be denied because of ruined credit that she had nothing to do with. She says she even lost a job offer, because the company pulled her credit.
NBC12 contacted authorities in Oklahoma to find out where the investigation stands regarding the latest round of allegations against Traci Garland. We will update you when we learn more.
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