The average person still thinks that identity theft is a victimless crime especially if the person whose identity was stolen never actually lost any money. Identity theft is the #1 complaint with consumers in 2013.
Here’s a true story about total identity theft that could make you change your mind about just how bad id theft could get.
Almost 12 years ago, an illegal immigrant from Mexico whose real name is Benita Cardona-Gonzalez (aka ‘The Thief’) decided she was going to live the American Dream one way or another. She moved to Topeka, Kansas and hatched an idea that she probably thought would hurt no one: She completely assumed the identity of Candida L. Gutierrez (aka ‘The Victim’), an American citizen who lives near Houston, Texas.
The Thief didn’t hi-jack existing credit card or bank accounts with the intent to steal money. The Thief completely assumed a new persona with The Victim’s total identity information. Easy for her, tough on The Victim.
Opening new credit and banking accounts was easy to do. The next step was to get a driver’s license and a job. Then she bought a house with a brand new mortgage.
But that’s not all….
The Thief gave birth to 2 children born in the US. She used The Victim’s information on the birth certificates. She then proceeded to get medical care for them. Living the American Dream had truly happened for her and her children.
In the meantime….
The Victim was living a nightmare. When she applied for a mortgage, she was turned down. That’s when she first found out about the theft. Can you only imagine the shock it must have been when she was told that she already had a mortgage?
This started a long uphill battle to clear her identity. Her credit history is a real mess and still not corrected as of March 2013 even after the arrest and conviction of The Thief.
Every year at tax time, The Victim had to go to the Social Security office with armloads of identification – even her old high school yearbooks. The burden of proof was on her shoulders to prove her identity and clean up her employment records.
Here’s a kicker: The Thief was bold enough to claim that SHE was the victim of identity theft. She apparently was such a good liar that the SSA actually gave her the new SSN when The Victim applied to get a new one because of the theft.
This left our Victim to have to file her income tax returns with a type of special identification number usually used by illegal immigrants.
In 2012, The Victim got married and her new husband decided enough was enough and he set himself to the task to clear up his new wife’s name. He got Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson to help and eventually the case was brought to court.
The Thief was given 18 months in prison. She said she had no idea how much harm she had done to The Victim. Seriously?
Who knows how many hours The Victim spent and still has to spend getting her life back. She is still listed as the mother of 2 children and there’s a legal mess with a foreclosure on the house The Thief bought.
Identity theft was barely talked about back in 2001 when this started. People didn’t know what it was or that it even know it could happen to anyone.
- Put fraud alerts on your credit files. Go to one of the credit bureaus to do it – that one will let the others know.
- File a police report.
- Contact the IRS – http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft
- Get your free annual credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
- If you have a membership from from an identity theft protection company, contact them right away. Their help is invaluable.