- News & Events
August 28, 2013
What’s governmental identity theft? First let’s cover what it’s not. It’s not what happens every April 15th (that’s a whole other kind of theft). It’s not what happens when you join the Army and meet your first drill instructor (that’s loss of identity). And, it’s not the process people go through to get into Witness Protection Program (that’s gaining an identity).
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit that conducts training and presentations on best practices and risk reduction for businesses and consumers, says governmental identity theft occurs when an imposter uses a victim’s personally identifiable information. The information can be used to obtain employment, a driver’s license, or get unemployment or other state or federal benefits.
Writing for ITRC, Sam Imandoust, a legal analyst for the Center, details what to look out for to avoid becoming a victim:
Governmental identity theft does not always immediately affect one’s credit so checking a credit report or having a credit monitoring service will not always alert a victim to the crime.
Victims of governmental identity theft discover that their identity is being used in different ways and include the following:
• When the victim is seeking a job and the employer runs a background check, the results will indicate that the victim is already employed.
• The victim receives notification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that their Social Security number has already been used in a previous tax return and as such the IRS is unable to process the return that they filed.
• A victim of criminal identity theft may discover that the reason the criminal identity thief was able to commit a crime in the victim’s name is because they obtained a fraudulent driver’s license using their identity.
• A victim who is receiving unemployment or other state or federal benefits will receive notification that their benefits are being terminated because income is being reported under their Social Security number because an identity thief is working under their identity.
There are many other ways that a victim could be alerted that they have fallen victim to governmental identity theft, but they have to be watchful for any clues that something is afoot. Should you discover that someone is using your identity to commit governmental identity theft you should do the following:
• Request your Social Security Earnings Information report using form Social Security Administration (SSA) Form 7050.
• After reviewing your Earnings History Report, remove any incorrect information using form SSA Form 7008 – Request for Correction of Earnings Record.
• File your next year’s tax returns as early as possible to avoid having the identity thief file a fraudulent tax return under your name before you do. The IRS does not verify that a return filed under your Social Security number and information is actually you, so it is first file first serve.
• In the case of someone using the victim’s identity for employment, check with the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation in the state where the identity thief worked to ensure they did not obtain a fraudulent driver’s license using the victim’s identity.
You may call the Identity Theft Resource Center at (888) 400-5530 or visit their website at www.idtheftcenter.org.
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Posted by Dan Rampe
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