Has your identity been stolen? If so, you’ve probably frozen your credit. Maybe even changed your phone number and email address. I’m guessing you’ve also updated the contact information on all your accounts. Things are looking up. At least you’ll be informed if anything suspicious happens. Think again. Old phone numbers and old emails, like zombies, are hard to kill.
Last month my broker sent sensitive information to my old (lost to hackers) email, even though he had my updated contact information. Apparently, my info was changed in his billing and CRM systems. His “secure” upload portal had my old, zombie information. Hence the misdirected email.
I have had similar experiences with my online health insurance account, credit card accounts, state and town accounts, and others. Even though I changed my profiles and communications preferences, the old information lives on elsewhere in their systems. Integrated ERP and SAP systems may be growing in popularity but at most companies data synchronization appears to be haphazard.
Old information rises up zombie like from the grave. It lives on in backup files, databases, and in other, surprising locations. For instance, despite updating profile information and communication preferences for one of my credit cards, I received no alerts. Texts continued to be sent to my old phone. Why? Because the account alerts were “hard wired.” They did not sync with my new contact information. They had to be changed manually on a separate website page.
Care for another example? I updated my online health insurance profile. Sometime later, I called my insurer about a claim and, after some discussions, the customer service agent promised to call me back . . . at my old number. That was the number in her system. Another zombie hideout.
There are no magic solutions. I highly recommend cancelling old accounts and opening new ones (wherever possible) using a different email and phone. For those accounts that cannot be so easily replaced, change what you can online, then call the customer service number to make sure. You may find that your old information perseveres in the sales/customer service system.
ID theft recovery is never-ending. Your information is out there, lurking. Don’t get complacent. Stay alert . . . and keep an eye out for zombies.
Want to reach me about this blog, or some other topic. Contact me at my old phone number Worldwide Local Connect.
Peter has spent the past twenty-plus years as an acting/consulting CFO for a number of small businesses in a wide range of industries. Peter’s prior experience is that of a serial entrepreneur, managing various start-up and turnaround projects. He is a co-founder of Keurig.