Identity Theft Nightmare Soars
While credit-card fraud is the most common use of stolen information, other victims find that their information has been used for seeking government benefit assistance, or even to purchase property.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over a quarter of a million people filed complaints of identity theft during 2005.
And it’s a trend that seems to be on the upswing. For some identity-theft victims, their lives don’t go back to normal for years. Mary Polise of Bergen County, NJ, knows firsthand, because she’s been trying to get her life in order for years after being the victim of identity theft. For her, a stolen social security number has turned into a nightmare one could only imagine.
“I’ve done everything I can think of, but it seems there is no legislation to protect us Americans from this and none of the agencies in charge will help me,” says Polise. “I went to the local police, hired a detective, and had a background check done on my identity. My life has been turned upside down and those in charge see me as a bother.”
While credit-card fraud is the most common use of stolen information, other victims find that their information has been used for seeking government benefit assistance, or even to purchase property. “People just think it’s a stolen social security number,” explains Polise. “Someone used my identity to purchase real estate, apply for government assistance and set up business. Because I push to find the culprits I now receive harassing letters and calls. I just need someone that knows what to do in this type of situation to help me out so that I can maybe sleep at night again.”
According to the FTC, the appropriate steps to take if you suspect identity theft include contacting a credit-reporting agency, closing compromised accounts, and filing a complaint with the FTC and your local police department. “Even following all the recommended steps didn’t help me,” adds Polise. “Unfortunately all those options are a dead end and I want to know why. My case was not investigated by the prosecutor or police and I’ve just received letters from the attorney generals office and the FTC saying I have no recourse.”
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