If you’ve been reading Identity Theft Secrets lately, you’ll remember the story of Christie Scalzo.
The woman who was falsely imprisoned and went through some real challenges because of someone stealing her Identity.
Christie’s friend found our post on IdentityTheftSecrets.com, and forwarded it to her, which eventually led to this interview with Christie Scalzo about her experience.
The interview and transcript are both below.
(Christie’s attorney, Craig Perry, also joined us for the interview.)
Click play to listen (or download the MP3).
It’s pretty crazy what she went through, when you think that this could really happen to anyone.
Download this interview as an MP3
IdentityTheftSecrets: Sometimes when I interview people for IdentityTheftSecrets.com, I get reactions and I get stories from people that just absolutely blow my mind about what people are going through and what’s going on in the world of Identity Theft. This interview was one of those. Listen to this excerpt:
IdentityTheftSecrets: So Christie, you went to file an impersonation report and what happened?
Christie: They refused to take the report. The metro refused to take the report due to the fact that I hadn’t gone to trial yet and I couldn’t prove that it was me. I couldn’t; they refused.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So you have to prove that you’re you before you can prove that you’ve been impersonated?
Christie: (Laughs) Yeah! I just kind of looked at her and I was just like, ok…..you know?
IdentityTheftSecrets: The interview you’re about to hear is a production of IdentityTheftSecrets.com.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And I’m here today with Christie Scalzo and Craig Perry. Craig is actually Christie’s attorney and I’m having them on today to do an interview with them. Just a little bit about Christie’s experience that she went through; if you remember just a few days ago, we actually wrote about her experience on Identity Theft Secrets and some of the challenges that she’s been through because of the woman who stole her identity.
So Christie and Craig, thank you very much for joining us today.
Christie: Oh you’re welcome.
Craig: Thanks again for having us on.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Absolutely! So Christie, if we can just start, would you talk about the day that you found out you were a victim of identity theft? I mean what happened and what did you experience?
Christie: Well I was driving down the street with my two kids and I got pulled over. The officer came up to the car telling me that he pulled me over because he ran my license plate and according to his computer, there was a warrant for my arrest out of Henderson, Nevada and he asked me, “are you Christie Scalzo?” And I said yes and he said that this warrant stands in Henderson. He asked me if I ever lived in Henderson or if I hung out in Henderson and I said no. And he said he was going to go double-check it and came back to the car and said “yeah, this is legit and we’re going to go ahead and have to take you in. I’ll let you call your husband so he can come and pick up your kids. My husband came and he asked me to get out of the car and he arrested me in front of my kids. He had to take me to a casino to transfer me because it was a Metro police officer that pulled me over. So he took me to a casino to transfer me to the Henderson officer and he took me to jail. And basically, well, both officers, I told them both that this is a case of mistaken or stolen identity. Told them that my car had been broken into in 2002 and that all my identification was stolen and he said, “well you can straighten it out whenever you get to the jail; they’ll compare your fingerprints and you know, it should be cleared up.”
So I’m thinking, ok. So I get to jail and I’m waiting for them to come to me and say, “ok, let’s do this,” you know? And they never did. And they asked me if I was going to be bailed out and I said, “I believe so.” I said but before I go I do need to be fingerprinted and mug shot right? And they were like, yeah. And they did all that and then whenever I was released of course then I just had to work on proving that it wasn’t me. But essentially the whole time I was going through everything I’m telling everybody, “look, this is a case of stolen identity” but there was no response to that.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So how long were you actually in jail?
Christie: I was in jail for about 8 hours; I spent the whole day in jail.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And obviously a relatively stressful experience to have gone through.
Christie: Absolutely! Yes and I told the first arresting officer that I was pregnant and whenever I got to the jail, I told them I was pregnant and I had gestational diabetes. The nurse told me, I told her that I was supposed to check my sugars every two hours. She told me, “well whatever you did before you walked through those doors, ceases to exist now.” And that was the case. And then whenever I got out of jail, I of course I went to the doctor for my pregnancy to make sure that everything was ok and I found out that the baby had died. Just a rough experience.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Gosh, yeah. I imagine the emotions that go along with that; it’s got to be just a lot of frustration and anger.
Christie: Oh yes and I was terrified too! You know, the first thing I did whenever got out of jail was to come home to find anything that could prove, that I could use to prove that it was me. You know, that was my first initial reaction. The very next day I went of course and obtained the police report that I had filed that my things were stolen. I went to the jail to try to get the mug shot and the fingerprints. They told me I had to have an attorney subpoena the records; that I couldn’t get them myself. So it was just one thing after another. I called the Attorney General’s office about the ID passport. They said that I would have to prove in a court of law that it wasn’t me – that I was…well, that I was innocent of the crime and that it wasn’t me who committed the crime, before they could help me. So, it was really a catch-22, it really was.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So then, what was your process of going through fixing it? You mentioned going to the jail to get the mug shot, you went trying to do the fingerprinting and all of that and they told you that you had to have an attorney. I mean did you have some sort of logical process that you were following or were you just doing everything that you could think to do?
Christie: Actually I was doing everything that I could think to do. Once I found out that I had to have an attorney, the first thing I did was get on the computer and try to, you know, ok let me see which attorneys I should go to. If there’s anybody out here who specializes in this, which is how I found Craig. He popped up as an ID specialist. So that was my first step, I did have to go to like a hearing where they were going to be charging me and I went to that and they told me that I could have a Public Defender. Because of the circumstances of everything, I decided it would be best for me to have an attorney who knew what he was doing and was familiar with this type of thing.
And from there, basically I just contacted Craig and we took it from there.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So you would say it was crucial to have your attorney going through this process?
Christie: Absolutely! Well yes, definitely! Because even when he contacted the District Attorney’s office, he had problems getting the information. He had problems getting my mug shot, he had problems getting my fingerprints. Then we did get the fingerprints and the District Attorney still wanted to pursue the case! Yeah, it is absolutely crucial I think to have an attorney.
Craig: I think that it’s unfortunate that she had to hire an attorney for this. I don’t think that a person should have to go through the things that she went through to clear their name and I was frankly surprised that she had to even hire someone to get this cleared up. It’s ridiculous.
Christie: Yeah, because I remember when I first contacted Craig he said that “you probably shouldn’t even need an attorney. I’m sure you can just go to court and be able to get this information yourself” and it turned out that I did need an attorney.
IdentityTheftSecrets: That’s amazing. Well, since I have both of you on the phone and Craig, I’d definitely like to ask you some questions too, just about your experience in dealing with this kind of situation. But how much did you spend in attorney’s fees and then time in getting this situation fixed? I mean if you don’t mind sharing that.
Christie: No I don’t. The attorney’s fees alone were $1500. There was the bail of another $1540. Plus I had to spend my money on getting the police report. My husband had to take two days off of work. I mean total; in costs out of my pocket? I’d say roughly about $4,000 was my total price that I had to put out.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And what about the woman, or man potentially, who stole your information? I mean what’s the status there now out of this? Because when we read the article, I mean the article said basically that you were in court for like 5 minutes and they said, yep, it’s dismissed! But what’s the status on that going forward; I mean did something happen with this person who stole your information or do they have any leads on that?
Christie: That’s the part that I’m really bothered with; I’m not sure. As far as I know, there’s no investigation into trying to find this woman or trying to find out who she was or anything like that. I think that’s something I want to find out if I could pursue? Because I think definitely she needs to be brought to justice.
Craig: I think that Christie expected an apology after this had occurred, correct?
Christie: Yeah, it would have been nice.
Craig: And maybe someone would call and say, “we’re sorry this happened; we’re going to get the bad guy.” You know, we’re going to make this right. Did you get anything like that Christie?
Christie: Absolutely not. Nope.
IdentityTheftSecrets: This is amazing. So the risk, I mean we hear about this all the time and the risk that this could happen to you again is still out there, right? I mean this woman is still …. By the way, what was the criminal charge you were supposedly, that you were arrested for?
Christie: The charges were burglary, was the first charge. The second charge was possession of a controlled substance.
Craig: Which was methamphetamine.
Christie: Yes it was methamphetamine. And it’s not on the complaint, but apparently she was charged with having an unregistered firearm on her kid.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And that carries a sentence of how long?
Christie: I was facing 20 years.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So if you hadn’t actively gone out and found someone to actually represent you in this situation who knew what they were doing, the potential for you, I mean you could have spent 20 years in jail over a false identity.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Unbelievable. I mean we hear these stories all the time but it still just blows me away when we’re talking first person.
So Craig if I could talk with you for a minute, I mean obviously, I’m guessing from what she said that there’s about $3,000 in expenses that she had with you and as far as she’s concerned, that’s probably money well-spent; unnecessary money, but money well-spent to clear her name or at least stay out of jail.
How did you get started working with identity theft victims and what kind of cases have you seen?
Craig: Well, I’ve done a lot of work with injury cases; personal injury is what we call them; a lot of that is auto accidents and things of that nature. But I saw this growing trend with people who were having their identity stolen and I thought, you know what, that’s an injury too. That kind of broadened my definition of an “injury.”
I had started doing credit resolution for people. It began in my practice where people would have a problem with a bill for treatment; for let’s say a victim of an accident. The person was not insured so they had no way to pay the bills and we had to call and try and get reductions from doctors and things to try to get people off the financial hook for things that were not their fault. They were victims there. And so that kind of evolved into helping people with getting their bills negotiated from time to time and we started doing this credit resolution to help people improve their credit scores by … that’s a whole other story – information on people’s reports that is incorrect, should have dropped off but there’s no obligation on anybody’s part to actively do that unless you get involved yourself. And that led to a lot of identity theft cases coming in the door. We had people who said, “that debt isn’t mine,” and so there’s a whole procedure as you know that you have to go through to clear credit problems that were caused by stolen identity.
So that’s what I was advertising – that’s probably what she found me for on the internet was that I do identity theft and that’s primarily what it arises out of is these credit reports where a credit card has been stolen.
But what’s alarming and what’s frightening; and I could give you other examples, but Christie is clearly the most poignant example of people who have been victimized twice. Once by the criminal and once by the system. And Christie is probably the most egregious example that I’ve seen to date where identity theft lands an innocent person behind bars and there’s no effort made on the part of the system to protect the innocent or to quickly resolve the matter. It should not take me, and it wasn’t $3,000, it was $1,500 that I charged her. I charged her less, normally through a prelim I charge a little more than the $1,500, but this was a case begging for help and it took two or three court appearances and it took a lot of prodding. I could give you some details that would probably shock you. It should shock you; it should shock anybody hearing it about what we had to go through to clear her name; it was ridiculous!
IdentityTheftSecrets: What were some of those things that she had to do?
Craig: Well first of all, I had to call the District Attorney and said, “we’ve got a case of identity theft here.” Christie filed a report with the authorities before this even occurred; this is kind of outrageous, right? You report it and then there’s no linkup in the system to compare your prior report with an arrest? I mean there should have been some check that way. But when I called the DA, first of all she’s a very nice woman. But first I called after the initial appearance and said we need to get this resolved this is a case and we have two forms of identification that can clear this up very quickly. The first one is to get the photos and the second one is to get the fingerprints. Either/or, or both and we’ll clear this up. Because the original booking would have the photos and the fingerprints and we’ll know right away if Christie’s telling me the truth that she isn’t this person or not. Of course Christie was very confident that it wasn’t her – I wasn’t really worried about that. But we had to continue this because they had not obtained this information.
So finally I said, alright well, I’ll go get the photo and I’ll get it. I mean I’m not in the system, but if I have to subpoena the information and I did; actually I didn’t have to even subpoena the information by the way Christie. They told you that you had to subpoena it? I just had to call booking and booking sent me the information. So I got the photo, it took me a half a second to see that it wasn’t Christie (laughs), just comparing her face and her driver’s license with the photo it was immediately clear this was a completely different person. And so I forwarded that photo that I had obtained from booking to the DA’s office. They had still not obtained a photo – they have my photo. So I said, well, does that do it? “Well we want to check the fingerprints as well.” And that’s reasonable. People can change hairstyles and look different. I said great, let me know. I’ll check back in a few days because we have another date coming for court for status check to try to avoid a preliminary hearing. So let’s do a status check again; let’s check before that date so we can clear this up before that date.
Well, I waited and no replies; so I started to call to find out well, did you get them? And when I didn’t get an answer, I finally said, fine, I do it myself. Soon again, I contacted, I think it was booking again we contacted and they forwarded us immediately sets of prints from both the original booking and the second booking; so I had both sets.
I pulled those out — it took about 5 seconds to compare the fingerprints. I just picked one finger; one was an oval print, one had a round print. Five seconds later it was obvious to me that this wasn’t the same person, again.
I called down to the DA’s office to find out if they had been able to get these and what I was told, and I’m giving you almost an exact quote, she said “I’m having trouble getting them from …” I don’t know if it was booking or from the investigators I guess. I think she’s probably going to go to the investigators to pull the info. But she’s like “I’m having trouble getting the information from my investigators. Can you please send them to me?”
So I had them scanned in; because I received them in a sealed envelope from booking and I sent them to her. And it wasn’t until I sent them to her that she was able to agree to a dismissal. So when we walked in that day — a news reporting agency had wanted to record the story which I thought was a great idea as Christie said, to get the word out about this could happen and how to avoid it. And they couldn’t get the camera on the stand fast enough before the case was dismissed! We literally walked in – the only shot they got was of us walking out and the state saying “we’re dismissing the case.”
I guess I’ll break there because there are a lot of things that I could say in addition to that but that was what happened in order to get her through the system.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So it took an attorney actually to subpoena the records because Christie would not have been able to do that herself; I mean she wasn’t allowed to more or less by the system to do that herself. And the District Attorney wasn’t able to get it when you were able to get it with a simple phone call.
Craig: Two phone calls. Once for the photo and once for the prints. I got something the next day from booking. Booking was very good to give me the information. Which leads to another question; why didn’t booking pull it when she was first arrested? This is the part that I don’t get. I mean there should be something in the system that says when a person has filed a fraudulent or identity theft victim report; there should be something in the system that when that happens that they go, when the person is arrested and they say it isn’t me, you’ve got the wrong guy which I’m sure they probably do hear fairly often; that there’s a procedure in place. Well, has Scalzo ever filed a report? Oh yeah, she filed and look at that, it was before the incident occurred. Therefore, in fact it was the day before wasn’t it Christie?
Christie: Yeah. I filed the incident on the 22nd and it happened on the 23rd.
Craig: So there should have been a trigger mechanism that they should have said, ok, we need to pull this file. We may have an innocent person here. But instead, they say, yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that before. And as far as the subpoena goes IdentityTheftSecrets:, I don’t know that she was required to have an attorney. I know she was told that because they don’t want to explain to her what you have to – if you’re a proper person, you can subpoena records; you don’t have to be an attorney. But how to subpoena records, that definitely takes going down to the law library to figure it out. So you can do it in proper person but the time you’re going to spend learning it and typing it up and getting it right as to form is going to take you some time. It’s pretty much forced upon you if they say “file a subpoena” to go get legal counsel to do that for you.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So how did you Christie, find out that you had become a victim of identity theft prior to this actually happening? I mean you knew that your information had been stolen.
Christie: Yeah, I knew my information had been stolen. Like I said, that happened May 21st in 2002. I knew it had been stolen, I reported it to the police. Whenever I reported it the police I asked them, so if somebody tries to use my info for something, I will be contacted now right? And she said yes! And I left it at that. And for six years everything’s been going on fine. I’ve gotten a new life since I’ve gotten into a car accident and ran my license. So I did not find out until January 8th of 2008 that I was a victim of identity theft.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And you found that out when they arrested you? Because you would have had to find that out beforehand.
Christie: Right, I found that out when they arrested me.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Ok – Wow! Pretty amazing – it’s just amazing that some of these things that happen with people, where you become a victim. And I agree with you Craig, as far as the victimization on both sides of the system because not only had someone stolen your information and now you have to clean up your records, but also now the system is treating you as a criminal when you haven’t been a criminal and doing any criminal activity.
So I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview today.
What’s interesting — I actually posted on a forum about a week ago just about some identity theft issues that people were going through and someone on that forum said, hey, that story on your website and this is the quote exactly word for word: “that story is there only to drive fear into people so they’ll buy products from your website. You probably made the whole story up.”
What do you Christie say to the person who said that about your experience?
Christie: Well, first of all, I’ve got a whole bunch of proof. I mean I’ve got paper after paper proving this. I’ve got a “record” now to prove that this has happened to me, you know. This is still on my record, they dismissed the charges but it’s still listed on my record that I was charged with this. There are so many people out there suffering from this and going through this that I think that is an absolutely ridiculous, naÃ¯ve statement!
IdentityTheftSecrets: Well I would definitely agree with that.
Craig: We can post the case number – this has a case number that can be looked up online, usually they’re online. I don’t know if Henderson city has their cases posted online. But this is an actual case and you can call my law office to confirm it. This is not being done, it’s not being done to scare people, it’s being done to warn people.
I mean first lesson of this case is identity theft is serious. It wreaks havoc in people’s life including this extreme example. This is definitely an extreme example and frankly from an attorney’s standpoint, the system did work. I mean we got her name cleared – they didn’t go forward with these charges. The problem is that Henderson has a reputation for being a little bit arrogant over there and they didn’t … there’s a bias about people being … we always hear “innocent until proven guilty,” but the innocent are not treated innocently. They’re treated as culprits and I understand why because it’s a mindset that develops because of the repeated exposure to people who are truly not innocent. But there needs to be something …. The second lesson is that you need to have something in place especially when someone has made a formal complaint that they expedite that and make it a priority because there’s nothing worse, right, than having a person who is innocent locked up. It’s maddening to think that it could even happen.
And the next lesson to me that is still unresolved is somebody’s out there with her identity. There’s probably going to be no effort made to find that person and that is a crime. There should be a moral imperative to find this person and to figure out what steps can be done to find this person. And it will continue to pull up on her record even though they’ve dismissed it. Does a dismissal look like resolution of the problem when the police pull up on their scanners or on their .. They call it a scope I guess. When they pull up a scope and it says oh, it was dismissed well that doesn’t mean she wasn’t a meth user, it doesn’t mean she didn’t commit burglary, it just means that maybe it got off on a technicality. I mean the speculation could run rampart about why she was arrested and why it was dismissed. There’s not going to be a note in there saying, “we got the wrong guy.” I guarantee you it’s not going to show up on a scope.
I’m going to try and take some steps to try to get this completely removed from even getting pulled up as a scope, but I’m not sure what kind of opposition I’m going to run into from doing that.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right, I mean do you know what the process is for that now that it’s … because what we’ve heard in the past, is that once it’s part of your criminal record, once it’s part of your medical record, I mean, obviously medical identity is a big problem too; once it’s part of those records it’s really hard to get removed from those records. Do you know what the process is for getting it removed?
Craig: It’s a great question and I may not know all of the law so I’ll just tell you what I know based on my dealings. There’s a word used nationally called “expunging” the record. The word we use in Nevada is “healing” the record and there are steps to take to “seal” a record but that’s if you have a conviction. You can seal a record for a felony, misdemeanor, some felonies there are exceptions; sex abuse cases cannot be ever sealed. But when you can get a record sealed it means that you never have to admit to it when you’re applying for employment if it’s been sealed.
So let’s say you commit a petty larceny, it’s a misdemeanor. Five years from the date of discharge, it might three years, you can file to have the record sealed so now when you apply for a job you don’t have to admit that you had ever pled to a petty larceny charge. So that kind of stuff can be done.
As far as how to remove an arrest that led to dismissal, I’ve got to tell you, I’m not sure how to do that. But I am fearful like you that even if it gets sealed where an employer can’t pull it up and see it if they are running a background check, I don’t know, I think from what I’ve heard and I’ve heard this from more than one person and these are people that I know who are in the law enforcement, that continues to show up if a judge pulls it, if an officer pulls it. It will say on that… it says on the screen “case dismissed” and then in parentheses sealed, but it doesn’t get redacted from the system. So this could be for the rest of her life. This is what is driving me crazy right now with this case.
Christie: Me too.
Craig: Completely innocent; wrongful arrest. Possibly, I don’t know, we haven’t done any discussion about this and I don’t even think to tell you the truth, I even knew Christie even miscarried from this. I think I learned it from this news story, Christie if you told me and I think that when we look into this if they deprived her of medication because they treated her like a common criminal and didn’t look into her medical needs if that led to a miscarriage you know there are things in the law — in the civil side that don’t allow for that kind of behavior that need to be looked into.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right and on the law enforcement side, that was actually my first reaction when I saw this, wow, lawsuit city here we come, you know? Because I looked at that and I thought you’ve got to be kidding me. I mean here’s this stressful situation that you put a pregnant woman into and she notifies the official people that she’s pregnant and to be denied medical treatment, I didn’t know that you were diabetic Christie, but it’s crazy when you read that.
But then you look at the law enforcement side of the issue and really they’re just, I mean in a lot of cases they’re really just doing their job; doing the best they can with the information they have at the time because every criminal says, well I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me.
Craig: That’s my first reaction too that this is just one of those tragedies. But if you look at the minimal effort I had to take to get the information to clear her name and it came from booking, that’s where I got the info. No one cared enough to look at the booking information from the first arrest — it’s all in the system? When I got a printout it shows which hard drive it came from — I mean they can’t lift a finger to look? I mean is that the epitome of laziness?
Christie: And may I …. I’m sorry.
Craig: No, you’re right this is going to happen but the minimal amount of effort it would have taken for the DA or her investigators, whoever she’s relying on, or the people in the booking department to flag this. It rises to the level of unconscionable as far as I’m concerned.
Christie: Uh-huh. And the irony of it is whenever the first arresting officer was taking me, he said if you’re telling the truth then as soon as you get to Henderson, booking will pull everything, they’ll compare everything and they should get it all straightened out. But that was never done.
Craig: Now why was the comparison not done? And again, she didn’t come to me and I don’t even think I knew about the miscarriage. I remember being shocked when I heard it on the news program when it aired. I didn’t take the case because there was a civil angle to this case. She didn’t come in to meet us for the case because it was a money-making issue. But when I heard that, I thought you know you’ve got a potential false imprisonment case because she was wrongfully detained when they had very good reason to believe that in their own system that they got the wrong person. And if they failed to give her medication, by having it, it would have let that baby live; that’s just wrong. That’s negligence.
IdentityTheftSecrets: That’s pretty amazing. I mean I guess we don’t really have any answers either, that’s one of the things that we’re working with on Identity Theft Secrets is just bringing news to people about what’s going on here, to bring people’s awareness up about how it happens and every time we hear about it, it’s from someone who says, I never thought it could happen to me.
Craig: There’s a couple of bright lights to it; one of them is that people should probably carry around their identity theft report. If it gets file-stamped, make sure you get a file-stamped copy to show that you made the report. That might trigger it. But who would have thought to do that you know, how many years later, Christie? Six?
Craig: Six years later. I mean it’s stretching it to even say that they should be considering doing that. I’ve heard in Nevada that the Attorney General’s office is now issuing identity theft cards to people who have made a claim. That would probably expedite people doing an investigation. I know that when Metro heard about this story, because we’ve been working….one of the things we do as a law firm is that we’ve taken people down to file identity theft reports because as you might know you can put a block on your credit, you can stop that person from using your credit card. But the reporting agencies require you to have a police report which kind of creates a catch-22. So we’ve tried to help people get that report. And so Metro, when they heard about this story, that’s the larger police department here in the valley of Las Vegas, they’re very concerned about this happening and they’re trying to take steps to make sure that it never happens in their department. So it might be an anomaly with Henderson, I don’t know. I know that the Las Vegas Metro Police Department was very concerned when they saw this story because we told them to watch it because we’ve been dealing with them and they’re very sympathetic to it. So I’m hoping that … this is Christie’s whole point really in coming forward is to try and be a vehicle for change. Try and sensitize people to this so that it won’t happen again.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And obviously with the National Task Force on identity theft .. but it’s interesting once you appoint a task force to an identity theft as when you’re a task force to any real issue sometimes it gets caught up in the bureaucracy of it and in the meantime people are having situations like what Christie’s gone through.
Craig: If you have one second Jon, can I take it one step further?
Craig: I don’t want to take any thunder away from this story, but I’ll just let you know that I’m working another story with the news agency and here are the facts of that case. A friend of mine, he’s actually running for political office, that’s really irrelevant, but his daughter is 19 and she had her identity stolen. Because this individual has experience in law enforcement or bail enforcement, he was able to track down the woman. He has a copy of the bank card that bears the photo of the thief. And he has contacted the authorities in the state in which this woman lives and contacted the bank from whom the card has been issued and neither one of them has taken any action – this has gone on for several months. This woman continues to use his daughter’s identity even though we have a copy of … this girl’s got her birth certificate, got all her information to show she is who she is and this woman who bears no resemblance at all to her; one is a white female, one is a Hispanic female. They look very different; blonde hair, blue-eyed; dark brown hair, dark eyes. And they have taken no steps and this guy has spent several thousand to try and clear this up. I mean it’s … can you believe it? You contact the bank and tell them it’s happened. You contact the authorities and they’re not going to do anything? I mean is this just, isn’t this just upside of how it should be?
Christie: Yeah, absolutely.
IdentityTheftSecrets: I mean Christie, as far as going forward, what’s your plan for going forward with this? That’s a crazy story by the way Craig. But it’s not that crazy because we hear it; I mean it’s just sad that we hear it so frequently. But Christie, what’s your plan going forward?
Christie: Actually right now I’m not sure. Craig and I have not had much chance to talk yet since that story aired and since the case ended. But definitely my goal is to get this out to as many people as possible so that that way there is some change. There is something in place for this happening. When I started going through this and I pulled it up on the internet, I found out Nevada is the second largest state in the United States for ID theft. So I feel like the more people that I can reach, maybe something will be put into place to stop this. To step in and say ok, these are the steps that you need to take, you know? Or this is the steps we need to take to see to that there’s something where all the agencies communicate with each other and where as soon as you file a report it goes into the system and it’s there. You know there should just be better steps; that’s my ultimate goal, to see to it that there are some changes that take place, you know?
Craig: Yes, as it becomes a growing crime, one of the largest crime segments I understand is identity theft. Being able to start adapting to the fact that we’re going to have some victims who are innocent. And we need to start creating a protocol to deal with these .. when a person claims it, they need to take some steps, especially if they have all the evidence in their own hands.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right, that’s what’s interesting about this case is that they didn’t compare the records but that could happen to anyone at any time really if there wasn’t a system in place. Sounds like Nevada is doing some things or at least the City of Las Vegas is doing some things to try and work with the issue and create some solutions to the problem there — which is great. It’s definitely going to take some really smart people to fix it on a national basis because it’s obviously a very international problem as well.
Christie, do you have any kind of last thoughts? Actually Craig do you have any last thoughts you’d want to share just with people about this problem in general or this particular case?
Craig: Well, there’s one other thing we can learn from this and this is the last thing I’ll end with is, frankly and we haven’t talked about this at all, but Christie was probably keeping too much information about herself, I mean in the car. You’ve got to take steps to protect your identity – it’s so easily taken. People ask you for your social, your date of birth, your name on all kinds of forms and really you’re not required to fill those things out. And then carrying information around, you’ve got to be careful where you leave stuff nowadays. There’s just a lot of things that I’m sure Christie, you’ve been thinking if I only had brought my purse in or whatever you left in the car that day. So those are the kinds of things people can do to be taking affirmative steps of prevention that’s really where this whole thing starts. You can put blocks on your credit now. You can create a way for people to not access your credit without you knowing it first. So there are things you can do and this is an example of where, with a few preventative steps, it could have been completely avoided.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Agreed. But one of the challenges that we see I guess to get into that point a little bit, you have some suggestions here but one of the challenges there is – I mean if you look at the privacy rights clearinghouse it keeps track of data breaches and there’s been 230 million pieces of information stolen in the last three years, three and a half years; since the ChoicePoint deal, since they lost all of that information. So even if you take all the preventive measures, a lot of times there’s not much you can do about protecting your information 100%. I know prevention is always better than cure, no question. But it’s just interesting that you know all our information is really already irretrievably “out there.”
Craig: And once it’s out there, it’s always out there.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right and with 220 million pieces of information stolen, chances are good that most of our information, most of us have information that’s been stolen at some point.
Craig: Yeah, that’s true, that’s over 2/3 of the population.
IdentityTheftSecrets: So and I agree, we advise shredding and all the preventative measures for people but sometimes the challenge there is even if you do all those things, they’re all good things to do, but ultimately because we’re all sort of in these databases; it’s really hard to keep your information your information.
Craig: You’ve probably seen those things online that state after interviewing people, you know how many hours and the dollars they’ve spent to reclaim their identity. I’m sure that Christie is, she’s right on track with most people, they’ve spent about $3,000 and several months of – hers has gone on now for six years – very extreme case, but people spend years getting this stuff resolved.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Right and with no guarantee that it doesn’t happen again in the future.
IdentityTheftSecrets: And on that happy note; Christie, do you have any kind of thoughts that you just want to impart to people about the experience that you went through, the challenges you went through or anything of that nature?
Christie: I think number one is prevention. Don’t carry all your information with you and if you do, make sure that you have it on you at all times, that’s number one. And number two; if this does happen to you, I think the hardest thing for me when it first happened was just to continue fighting. I did not stop searching for somebody who could help me. I didn’t stop calling agencies. I didn’t stop whenever I was told, oh you have to do this, you have to go get an attorney. I didn’t stop and I think that’s the main thing is to just pray and keep going. If you know that you’re innocent, then you’ll be able to prove it, you know. I think that’s the best thing that you can do. And if it does happen to you and you report it, carry that report with you! I had it in my file cabinet at home. If I had had it in the car it might have made a difference. So I think that’s a big thing that you can do to help.
IdentityTheftSecrets: Well Christie and Craig, I want to thank you both for taking the time today to spend some time with us from IdentityTheftSecrets.com. I’m sure that this information will be at least enlightening if not very beneficial for the people who are hearing it. So thank you very much for taking the time today.
Craig: You’re welcome, thank you.
Christie: Yes, thank you.
This has been an audio interview with IdentityTheftSecrets.com. We can be found online at www.IdentityTheftSecrets.com.