Not only does identity theft cost you money due to false charges, it also consumes a huge amount of your time to fix once you have discovered the problem. Calling the bank, credit card companies, and creditors and proving that the debts aren’t yours can feel like it’s consuming your life.
As irritating as credit card identity theft can be, it’s nothing compared to how devastating Social Security identity theft is. Correcting this type of identity theft can take months, and maybe even years, because it takes so long for it to be noticed. It can also happen multiple times, since the identity thief has access to your Social Security number, birth certificate, and/or medical records, etc.
Take the case of Larry Smith. Mr. Smith is a Florida resident whose name and personal details were used by someone else. Over the past 17 years, it is alleged that Joseph Kidd used Smith’s birth certificate to obtain medical benefits; all the while, he also used Smith’s name and “identity” when committing (and getting caught for) various crimes. This caused the police to arrest the real Smith, who spent several nights in jail for crimes allegedly committed by Kidd.
The real kicker to this story is that when Kidd was finally apprehended–when Smith’s wife finally managed to convince the police that they had the wrong guy–Kidd still managed to use Smith’s name and identity. The police booked him as “Smith” and released him as “Smith,” complete with a parole ID card in Smith’s name so that Kidd could continue to confuse authorities and use Smith’s name–and benefits.
The time, energy, and money the Smiths have invested in trying to get this fraud corrected is staggering. But it is nothing compared to the emotional toll this event has taken on their lives. Being jailed for a crime you didn’t commit? Not many of us can even imagine that nightmare -but it happens.
Most of us can’t imagine, either, what Anndorie Sachs has been through. She got a call at her home telling her that she had given birth to a baby addicted to methamphetamines. Since she hadn’t had a baby in over two years, she quickly realized that someone had used her name and records to pay for a labor and delivery.
300,000 people were victims of identity theft in 2009. In the scheme of things this isn’t a large number of people, however, medical identity theft can be quite expensive to correct and can even be life-threatening, as there is information on your medical chart that isn’t accurate.
Banks have tried to really crack down on faulty charges on credit cards, causing identity thieves to use other ways to steal your money… such as getting into your checking account of messing with your home equity line. Having your identity tampered with, whether it be from a stolen wallet, data breach, or dumpster diving can result in you having to spend your personal money and time trying to defend your innocence.
The reported number of hours it takes to recover from fraud (59 hours!) means it’s nearly impossible to do so without attempting much of the clean up during working hours–which means losing job productivity and in some cases causing you to lose pay.
“…the average consumer out-of-pocket cost due to identity fraud increased to $631 per incident in 2010, up 63 percent from $387 in 2009. Such costs include the expenses of paying off fraudulent debt as well as resolution fees, such as legal costs.”
If you have had problems with identity theft and have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us through our website or by calling 205-879-2447.
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