What to do in case of identity theft, especially when done to steal your COVID-19 Stimulus
The people who steal identities or use already stolen ones have reasons for this, and all of them are a fraud of some manner. The two most common, with the uses of information for both being fairly even, is to obtain a job and credit card fraud. The next two most common are also about the same level of happening are phone or utility fraud and stealing bank accounts or opening new accounts. The last two are loan or lease issues and government documents or benefits. All of these hurt individuals, businesses, and the tax payers to the tune of over a billion dollars yearly.
Most people do not think of civil matters when they are thinking about laws. This is one of the most insidious ways that identity thefts harm people. People who have their identities stolen are forced to prove they did not open accounts or pay for what is owed. This means that many people who have this happen will end up having to defend themselves in court, which means time and money having to be expended for even a chance of making sure they are not paying for what others do on their criminal spree.
One of the ways that criminals have taken advantage of the chaos of the COVID-19 reaction by the government is to overwhelm the unemployment system with claims. In Michigan, there have been half a million claims that have been found to be from criminals, while the system was already overwhelmed. The chaos in that state led to the resignation of the person in charge and investigations. This is no different in Colorado, where thousands have been listed as good in one part of the process, but under investigation as fraud in another, which frustrates tax payers.
When someone is caught, what they have done needs to be investigated. Boyd Egan of Chicago was recently convicted of stealing the identities of thirty people. The federal court gave him nine years in jail and five years of supervised release. He also has to pay over $160,000 in restitution for what he did. He utilized the identities he stole in defrauding banks and used a fake driver's license in the process. Furthermore, he used many tools to steal money using these identities and took several law enforcement agencies to catch him. It shows the amount of work that has to be done on all levels to catch such a thief.
Another way that identity theft has affected tax payers is by having payments stolen by people with access to multiple social security numbers. Several people have been caught stealing these payments, such as a couple in Texas. These people steal identities and use it with a system that was overloaded with people needing this to help their families while the economy was shut down. This stops people needing the money from getting and causes people to not trust the government agencies involved when other emergencies happen.
Identity theft reaches into the lives of people affected in more ways than most people realize. The money and time that has to be spent by law enforcement agencies could be used to handle other crimes, but they get stuck solving this menace. The courts have to sort out cases where people had their identities stolen and had accounts opened. Businesses deal with the fraud in many ways. This is a crime that seems tiny to those who are not affected, but it will ruin lives and businesses quicker than when someone commits a crime on their own. This is why any act of theft needs to be considered serious, no matter who is using the stolen information.