Minnesotan Michele Sorenson could be the poster child for identity theft prevention. Like 80% of other identity theft victims, the certified public accountant didn’t learn of the attack until collection agencies began demanding payment. She then called the national credit reporting agencies and discovered the magnitude of her problem. There had been 30 attempts to open new credit accounts using her identity. But that was just the beginning.
The thief—or thieves—also used her information to acquire a California driver’s license, write bad checks, steal a car, charge medical bills, get telephone service, run up thousands of dollars at department stores and gas stations, and–the piece de resistance—post bail for a jailbird buddy.
Consumers are most familiar with financial identity theft, but according to a 2007 survey by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), criminal case identity theft is on the rise. Among ITRC respondents, 62% ended up with arrest warrants issued in their names. Identity theft victims who are arrested experience considerable difficulty in clearing their names, and are sometimes arrested repeatedly until the real criminal is apprehended.
Medical identity theft can have life-threatening consequences if incorrect blood type, medical conditions or allergies are entered into a victim’s chart. Correcting the errors can be nearly impossible; once the victim declares the information in the chart isn’t theirs, HIPPA regulations preclude their access to the files.
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