Digital Identity Blog

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Believe It or Not. Money May Be the Least of the Hassles Caused by ID Theft.

By ThreatMetrix
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“Who steals my purse steals trash…But he that filches from me my good name… makes me poor indeed.” — Othello Act 3, scene 3

Don’t believe money is the least of the problems identity theft causes? Okay, so maybe neither do we. But, Bob Sullivan on makes a good case for damage done by ID theft that’s not directly related to money. However, somewhere down the road, the bottom line is almost invariably the bottom line for the victim who’s stuck with a financial mess to clean up. And, even the process of cleaning up the mess costs time…and usually money.

In any case, Sullivan points out some surprising ways that ID theft hurts. The following has been edited to fit our format. You may find Sullivan’s complete article by clicking on this link.

1. Hurt Your Job Prospects

Many employers now routinely look at credit history when assessing job candidates. (About half, according to a 2012 study by the Society for Human Resource Management.) A report pockmarked by ID theft-related errors could sink your application. [Posting] your resume online or on job boards can also increase your chances of becoming an identity theft victim.

2. Cause Your Auto Insurance Rates to Rise

Virtually all auto insurers use credit scores to set rates, wherever it’s legal (California and Massachusetts ban the practice). A low score can hike premiums by 20% to 50%.  Insurers can’t outright reject you because of your credit score without telling you, but they can use the score to offer you higher rates without giving you an explanation.

3. Get You a Surprise Tax Bill

One form of ID theft known as SSN-only ID theft involves using a victim’s Social Security number in job applications, generally to fulfill government residency status requirements…. [If] the impostor ultimately fails to pay taxes, the Internal Revenue Service will try to collect from the rightful holder of the SSN.

4. Impact Your Social Security Income Credits

[Earnings] erroneously credited to an SSN can cause chaos when the rightful SSN holder tries to apply for benefits.

5. Slow Down Your Tax Refund

The Treasury Department’s inspector general says 1.6 million taxpayers were impacted by identity theft in the first six months of 2013….The IRS has massively stepped up its anti-ID theft efforts, and turned up its fraud filters, which means it has slowed down returns for many legitimate taxpayers.

6. Leave You with a Criminal Record/Get You Arrested

If a criminal is arrested and uses your name or your stolen driver’s license during booking, you could end up with a criminal record. Innocent people have been arrested during routine traffic stops and in front of their children, and some have even been thrown in jail for murder allegations.  The problem became so serious at one point that several states created a special document called an “Identity Theft Passport” to be carried by victims to prevent a wrongful erroneous arrest.

7. Kill You (Virtually)

July Rivers of Alabama … wanted to open [a bank] account. The bank refused… According to its information, she was dead. Soon, she found she was unable to get credit anywhere for the same reason…. A living, breathing human being could not convince financial institutions that she was alive. They trusted their databases instead…. Eventually she learned an ID thief was using her information and apparently decided that registering himself/herself as dead was the best way to run away from creditors. Rivers had to spend years cleaning up the mess. The Social Security Administration wrongly declares about 14,000 people dead every year.

8. Get You the Wrong Treatment at a Hospital

Doctors can create fake patients and file fake claims, for example. One such victim discovered falsified claims for psychiatric sessions when he applied for a job, according to the World Privacy Forum…. [Creation] of a [phony] medical record [may impact a] victim’s future treatment. Ponemon surveyed victims, who said…they’d experienced a misdiagnosis, (15%), mistreatment (13%), delay in treatment (14%), or were prescribed the wrong drugs (11%).

9. Keep Your Kids from Getting College Financial Aid

[This] crime is usually discovered when would-be college students fill out their first financial aid forms…. [Fraudulent] earnings that end up attached to an under-aged child can have a direct impact on that student’s eligibility for financial aid, and in extreme circumstances, delay enrollment in college.

By ThreatMetrix Posted