When an identity thief uses your Social Security number (SSN) to open up accounts, it's a strain on your credit score that may have lenders thinking you are less than fiscally responsible. However, reclaiming your financial identity is a lot easier to do when all that has been compromised is your SSN. Some people become victims of total identity theft, where not only their SSN gets compromised, but everything about them is taken and adopted by a criminal who refuses to give it back.
This happened to Candida Gutierrez, who had her credit ravaged by an identity thief and also watched as the criminal who stole her PII fought to keep it, and had authorities wondering which woman was really Gutierrez.
For some illegal immigrants, identity theft seems like the right answer
Benita Cardona-Gonzalez was an illegal immigrant who had somehow found a way to get a hold of Guitierrez's information. Both women were in their early 30s when the theft occurred and also had similar physical characteristics.
Guitierrez was a teacher in Houston, Texas, when she discovered that someone had been using her information to gain employment. She had applied for a mortgage and was denied, as her credit report had been riddled with irresponsible financial activity committed by someone using her identity.
A brazen thief may fight to keep a stolen identity
Gutierrez filed claims against the accounts that Cardona-Gonzalez had opened in her name, but to Gutierrez's surprise, the thief fought back, claiming that she was in fact the real victim. This fight went on for a decade, as Cardona-Gonzalez used Gutierrez's name to gain several jobs as well as insure the two children she had given birth to since stealing the identity.
Repercussions of total theft are long term
Eventually, Gutierrez was able to get investigators to arrest Cardona-Gonzalez, and after fingerprints were taken, her real identity as an illegal immigrant was revealed, resulting in jail time.
Despite ultimately reclaiming her identity, Gutierrez still has to prove that she is who she says she is because of the total identity theft committed against her. This means that every year she has to bring not only her birth certificate and password, but also her high school yearbooks to make her case to the department of Social Security.