By Sam Sky, "The Credit Guy"
The average client seeking the help of a counselor had $43,000 in debt, of which $20,000 was consumer debt and $8,500 revolving debt.
Source: Georgetown University Credit Research Center
Consumer debt in 2007 stood at $2.5 trillion.
Source: Federal Reserve
The average household, in 2007, carried nearly $8,500 in credit card debt.
Source: Federal Reserve
46.2% of all families, in the U.S., carry a credit card balance.
Source: Federal Reserve
I’m going to tell you a little story about an individual who had an experience that afterwards; you can determine whether it was credit card fraud or identity theft. Due to client confidentiality the name in the story and the particular cities of interest will be changed to protect the innocent. Zachary was leading his carefree wonderful life with his wife and four children, working hard, never having been arrested and a real church going patriotic American. Unbeknownst to Zachary, over the last fifteen months, some interesting things were occurring that were being attached to his name, birth date, and social security number.
Approximately fifteen months before his alarming introduction to the nightmare that he was just entering into; someone had stopped by his mailbox at his house and snatched eight letters, as well as a bag of garbage that included his social security number. We will call this person Sleazebag X. Sleazebag X went to a city about 30 minutes away. Sleazebag X then went and requested a simple library card and city pool I.D after explaining that his wallet was stolen and he just moved to this new city from three cities over. Once Sleazebag X got his library card and pool card he skipped on over to a social security administration office and explained his nightmare situation. Sleazebag X then produced his two new I.D’s and requested a duplicate of his social security card to be mailed to his new address. Once Sleazebag X got a hold of the social security card he went out of state and traveled to a remote popular state with no photo (Driver’s License) reprocity to check or cross check the individual making the application to see if the new driver’s license applicant was in fact the same person. Sleazebag X was able to avoid producing a previous Driver’s License photo. Low and behold Sleazebag X then traveled to four other states and received additional driver’s licenses before calculating in the future how he would later sell this additional identity information on the black market.
In the mean time Sleazebag X opened up eight different bank accounts, and shortly there after, wrote numerous amounts of bad checks. During this time Sleazebag X was also issued five speeding tickets in three different states. Not to worry, a little Karma caught up with Sleazebag X and he had a medical situation, and had to go to the hospital. Lucky for Sleazebag X, Sleazebag X had given the healthcare insurance carrier Zachary’s social security number and Sleazebag X received free medical treatment. Let’s not forget about Zachary, who is still minding his own business during the mean time. Sleazebag X had blood work that came back (in Zachary’s name of course) and it turned out Sleazebag X had Hepatitis C and a few other unpleasant anti-social medical ailments. Unbeknownst to Zachary, his medical insurance was discontinued and his entire policy became null and void leaving very little chance of him ever being picked up by another medical insurance carrier, EVER. As the bench warrants started to pile up against the name of Zachary, (which were caused by Sleazebag X) the troubles included a grand larceny charge (for bad check(s) writing), failure to appear for speeding tickets and pay numerous traffic fines, judgments for rental evictions, and other small warrants for bonding out on drunk driving (“and failure to appear”), etc..
Back to Zachary; he has decided to take a week off of work and take his family to an amazing amusement park in Ohio. Zachary may have been exceeding the speed limit, (and if he wasn’t?) for whatever reason, he gets pulled over. Within minutes Zachary is arrested and is taken directly to jail. On the way to jail Zachary is insisting that they have the wrong person, but yet, he still claims he has the same name, birthday, and social security number (of course, this is the exact information that Sleazebag X utilized when earning the arrest warrants). After Zachary’s third day in jail, and the production of fifteen affidavits from Zachary’s home town sheriff and business associates which stated that Zachary could not have been in those states on those infraction dates, he was able to be released. However, while charges were still pending until resolution could be reached. Zachary then hires a basic attorney to try and sort this entire mess out. Three days later, Zachary is driving to a very important business meeting which is three counties away in his home state. Zachary gets pulled over again, Zachary gets arrested, Zachary gets frustrated.
Before I go too much further into Zachary’s story; when you have to sort things out with Check Systems, (who governs the banks) the banks themselves, law enforcement in different cities and counties, in different states, it becomes a burden. Then, you have your health insurance and the medical information bureau to deal with. After that, everyone you talk to doesn’t even have the power to remedy your situation, and you’re finding it difficult to submit the proofs and documents that you need to clear your name. It becomes frustrating. It’s ok, because the story gets worse for Zachary. To go into detail would require another three or four pages, so I am going to skip to the good news. Zachary finally cleared his name, and he carries around a binder in his car with affidavits and letters from different county sheriff’s (spanning multiple states) so that if he ever gets pulled over, that deputy can radio into the dispatcher to make those contact calls to prevent Zachary from being arrested. In the future, if Sleazebag X acquires more warrants in Zachary’s name, or shall I say in the very unlikely event, Sleazebag X wants to screw over Zachary one more time just for fun, he won’t get away with it… Unless of course I told him how to do it! LOL
I predict that you can now distinguish between someone who endures basic, trivial, minor irritation credit card fraud, as opposed to an individual who experiences true identity theft.
You may be saying to yourself that’s kind of a hard luck story but what can I do to prevent someone from doing that to me? I have amazing news for you, YOU CAN’T. I said amazing I didn’t say wonderfully amazing or terribly amazing, I just said amazing. Helpful tips: Don’t stare directly into the sun.
In my expert opinion, an identity theft website would not have prevented all this damage. No way, No how.
• Tip number one, cross shred all personal documents.
• Tip Two; file a police report (In the event that your local police office tells you it’s a civil matter, not criminal, and that he/she can’t fill a police report out, ask for his/her supervisor because he/she is a lying stupid lazy moron).
Excerpted from "The Credit Book," by Sam Sky. Sam Sky has been caring for people’s credit for the past 15 years. Over the last seven years Sam Sky has been the CEO of
Credit Restoration Brokers, LLC , and additionally Debt Negotiation Associates, LLC.