If you’ve been watching the news, or even just keeping up with StumbleForward, you know that personal identity theft stories are on the rise. As people put more of their lives out in public and financial and government institutions get tangled in bureaucracy, it is harder than ever for identity theft victims to clear their names.
These factors allow identity thieves to use identities for longer periods of time and for more daring crimes, an ominous trend that threatens anyone whose identity is stolen.
The victims of identity theft stories below have made steps towards putting their lives back in order since they were victimized, but as you will see, even years after identity theft occurs victims might be living in fear that the nightmare is not truly over.
Identity Theft Story: The Good
Karen Roger had her checking account drained and identity stolen when her mail was compromised. After months of struggling with financial institutions and overdraft charges, she had solved most of the issues when she happened to recognize the woman who was stealing her identity – while standing next to her in line at a Starbucks.
Karen chased the suspect through downtown San Francisco until police could catch up and arrest the criminal, who had prior convictions for fraud and theft. Watch Karen’s story on YouTube, courtesy of Good Morning America.
Identity Theft Story: The Bad
Medical identity theft could be impacting 250,000 Americans, and isn’t just a financial risk stemming from unpaid medical bills. Take the story of Joann Davis, who was met by a police officer when she went to pick up a prescription at a local pharmacy. The officer informed her that someone had stolen her identity to obtain thousands of dollars in medical care and prescriptions.
Through data breaches like stolen laptops and “inside jobs” by people working for medical facilities and billing companies, identity thieves can obtain the data they need on real patients to commit medical identity fraud. Since hospitals check an individual’s medical history before giving treatment, this means that victims of medical identity theft could receive the incorrect treatment or medication, a potentially deadly situation.
In Joann’s case, it took months before the identity thief was apprehended. Learn more about this disturbing crime on YouTube, courtesy of NBC News.
Identity Theft Story: The Ugly
Margot Somerville was out golfing when she was called by police officers nearly 1,000 miles away in Colorado, who informed her that she was about to be arrested. The 66 year old grandmother and career banker was arrested at her home, handcuffed, and taken to jail. Her crime? She was a victim of identity theft.
Months earlier, Margot’s wallet was stolen in her hometown of San Francisco while she rode the streetcar, and though she did everything right and reported the crime, police thought that she was the criminal. Margot was charged with suspicion of felony identity theft, since the real criminal withdrew $60,000 from Wells Fargo bank accounts – including Margot’s own.
The police did not accept that Margot was innocent because the real criminal’s handwriting was similar to Margot’s, a situation that beggars belief. After two years of legal battles Margot was credited back the money stolen from her account and the criminal charges were dropped, though not until after she spent $50,000 on legal bills. Find out more about Margot’s unbelievable identity theft story on YouTube courtesy of The Today Show.
These real identity theft stories show that no matter what town you live in, how old you are, or what you do for a living, identity theft can turn your life upside down and cause things to quickly spiral out of control. As Margot and Karen’s identity theft stories show, even if you are financially savvy you are not immune to this crime.
The only thing that these three stories have in common is that using an identity protection service such as LifeLock or Identity Guard could potentially have prevented the crime from occurring in the first place. Watch the clips for more information on these three very different identity theft scenarios, and let us know in the comments section what you would do if any of these situations happened to you!