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Susana’s hard-earned money in her checking account was supposed to be spent on a family getaway to Disneyworld, a much needed vacation for the divorced mother of two living paycheck-to-paycheck. But an identity thief ruined her plans when they stole Susana’s debit card number and used her earnings to purchase computer software from companies in Canada and South Africa.

Upon discovering that she had become a victim of identity theft, Susana notified her bank and filed a police report with local authorities, hopeful that something could be done to recover the stolen money. Susana’s bank waived some of overdraft fees that the crooks had accumulated on her record – but not all – leaving her with the rest of the bill. The detective at the local police department simply took the Orlando resident’s report and filed it away with other area identity theft cases.

But Susana took action. She began contacting the out-of-country companies that had been patronized by the crook. The Canadian companies Susana called offered to refund most of her stolen money. The South African companies weren’t as sympathetic. In all, Susana says that she lost around $3,000 from the theft, stemming from late fees and money that wasn’t recovered from the fraudulent purchases. As a result, it sent her further into debt and wreaked havoc with her finances.

She suspects that whoever stole her identity obtained her information online, either by hacking into her computer, or through a “phishing” scam, where crooks send official looking emails from established companies asking for private financial information. Susana’s ordeal has made her more careful about giving up personal information. She has since changed banking institutions and now makes sure that her online transactions are only sent through secure websites.