The New York Times ran a large article spread today covering something we have been talking about for a long time: Identity theft isn’t just about financial gain.
Oh really? You mean that those cute Citibank ads aren’t really explaining the whole problem of Identity Theft to me?
Parts of the article seem to offer that it’s okay for people to enter this country illegally, and use the social security numbers of Americans to get work.
The Federal Trade Commission, which estimates that 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year, does not distinguish between people who steal Social Security numbers so they can work and those who are out to steal money. Illegal immigrants make up nearly one of every 20 workers in America, according to estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, and most are working under fraudulent Social Security numbers, which can be bought in any immigrant community or in Mexico.
What the article seems to be suggesting is that we should we really distiguish between:
Someone who does someting illegal in order to do something illegal
That’s the way I read that paragraph anyway. The statistical data might be interesting to have, but what does it really matter? Identity Theft is Identity Theft, regardless if it’s a means to a positive or a negative end.
The article goes on to show this quote from a professor of sociology at Princeton
â€œItâ€™s basically a subsidy from migrant workers to the aggregate of American taxpayers,â€ said Douglas S. Massey.
A subsidy? The only way that illegals are somehow “subsidizing” the aggregate of American taxpayers is if you look at the tiny little issue of immigrants paying into a system they illegally entered, from which they will never draw benefits.
Let’s look at the bigger picture for a moment. Financial institutions, and ultimately consumers, lose billions of actual dollars every year to identity theft losses. Factor in the time people lose while dealing with the issue, and identity theft becomes extremely expensive. The “subsidy” that an illegal pays into the system for a $10/hour (or less) job is far outweighed by the costs each of us incur, as legitimate and legal American taxpayers, for the people working in our courts and financial systems who spend thousands of hours each year working to help the people who are victimized by Identity Theft and fraud.
Ms. Lybbert estimates that for four or five months she spent 30 hours or more a week making telephone calls, feeling passed from one agency or voice-mail system to another: the Social Security Administration, the state attorney general, the three bureaus that issue credit ratings and police departments in two cities. â€œEveryone I talked to handed me off to someone else, saying thatâ€™s not our department, call this number,â€ she said. â€œI was being led in a circle.â€
She did all of this simply to clear a record of the damage that had been done by someone who didn’t even want to do her harm. An illegal immigrant, who took the identity of her 3 year old daughter, simply wanted to have a better life while living and working in the United States. However, imagine if that illegal had actually wanted to do her harm financially, or, at the very least, simply didn’t care.
Illegals are filing for bankruptcy, using someone elseâ€™s number. I had one 78-year-old with three defaults on houses she never owned.
Scott Smith of Ogden, Utah, discovered that someone was using his daughter Baileyâ€™s Social Security number when he applied for public health insurance for her. Mr. Smith, who owns four shredders, is by his own description â€œreal paranoidâ€ about identity theft. â€œWe even take the shreddings and put them in different garbage cans,â€ he said.
Mr. Smith went on to be quoted as saying:
â€œMy opinion was, Hey, weâ€™ve got someone hard-working whoâ€™s come from Mexico, who just wants to get a leg up â€” give her Baileyâ€™s Social Security number and issue us a new one. Let her stay in the country. But they arrested her. I actually feel bad about her being deported.â€
I guarantee that Mr. Smith would not have felt the same way, had he been unfortunate enough to suddenly find himself the father of Bailey, the daughter with a criminal record, wanted for check fraud in four states.
He also won’t feel that way when his daughter’s information goes through the reseller network and suddenly there are 37 jobs his daughter has never had associated with her social security number. Particularly if those are jobs he wouldn’t want her to have.
All in all, the New York Times did some good research for this piece. The problem of illegal immigrants using social security numbers to get jobs in the names of actual Americans is not going away, and the NYT is right to point out that something has to be done here. However, as with most of the information people are receiving about Identity Theft, they’re simply not presenting the whole picture to an American public that really doesn’t understand what’s happening, or how big the problem of Identity Theft has become.
Other blogs discussing “Some ID Theft Is Not for Profit, but to Get a Job”:
Common Sense America