Identity theft can ruin a person’s finances. Victims can wake up to discover that someone has opened credit cards and other financial accounts in their name, racking up thousands of dollars in debt. It can take years to repair the damage that this can do to the victim’s credit.
And yet, as bad as that sounds, it can always be worse.
Financial fraud is one thing, but many people are unaware of the concept of “total identity fraud.” This happens when thieves steal personal information and use it to effectively assume a victim’s identity, often for years at a time. This crime goes beyond simple monetary theft — if someone steals your entire identity, they are in a position to get jobs, health care and even a mortgage in your name.
It’s not entirely clear how common this crime is, but evidence suggests that it does happen, possibly more frequently than people think. The Federal Trade Commission received more than 330,000 identity theft claims last year, and of those 17 percent involved more than one type of identity theft. It is certainly possible that some of these cases could be classified as total identity theft.
Consider the example of Marcus Calvillo, a 45-year-old resident of Texas who for years faced what initially appeared to be bad luck. According to an article on Claims Journal, as a teenager Calvillo was accused of writing bad checks and later had his driver’s license revoked for unpaid traffic tickets. Neither of these offenses were true, but that did not stop him from later losing his job as a cable installer. Even to this day, he reportedly has trouble holding a job, as supposed incidents from his past keep coming to the surface.
As it turns out, the problem was never Marcus Calvillo, who by all accounts appears to be innocent of the many accusations levied against him. The problem was always the person who had stolen Calvillo’s identity and claimed it as his own for years.
Claims Journal reports that federal prosecutors in Kansas are investigating a convicted child sex offender who they believe may also have stolen Calvillo’s identity. The man, a citizen of Mexico, has been charged with aggravated identity theft, making a false statement to the government, misuse of a Social Security Number and false claim of U.S. citizenship.
If this case is successful, Calvillo may be able to begin the long road back to financial recovery. Even still, his case should serve as a warning to others who do not take the threat of identity theft seriously.
Thieves can steal identities in many different ways. Everyone should take basic preventative steps, such as guarding the Social Security nNumber, securing their mail and shredding important documents before throwing them away. But these steps are not always enough to prevent theft, which is why it is important to take proactive measures.
If you have concerns about identity theft, be sure to invest in a credit monitoring service, which can notify you of certain activities that may indicate fraud. This can give you much-needed peace of mind, allowing you to rest assured that you’re taking important measures to safeguard your identity.