Identity Theft and Immigration Reform Intersect

Identity TheftImagine trying to file your five-year-old daughter as a dependent, only to find that she was “making too much money.” Or your child being denied Medicaid because he had wages reported on his social security number. That’s happened to six-year-old Carter Andrushko. His Social Security number was used at an OB/GYN’s office. An illegal immigrant was using his number for years before he was born, racking up all sorts of medical bills. These events could have been devastating to Andrushko’s financial future.

That’s just one example of modern fraud. Millions of Americans get there identities stolen through various scams and schemes. It’s time to get proactive about protecting your identity.

Fraud in America

Many people claim that illegal immigration is a victimless crime. People who have been victims of employment theft perpetrated by illegal immigrants may think differently. Whether you are for or against a lenient immigration system, you could be greatly affected by any reform taken by the federal government. Illegal immigrants need to obtain documents no matter their circumstances.

This affects a staggering amount of people in the United States. According to Federal Trade commission, about one in six people fell victim to some sort of identity theft last year. Out of all identity theft complaints in 2011, 8% reported to be victims of employment-related fraud. Unemployment fraud cost the United States 3.3 billion dollars in 2011. One thing is certain: the more illegal immigrants in the United States, the more employment fraud will occur.

There are many reasons why someone would want to steal your identity. Illegal immigrants, for example, have no documentation that would allow them to work in the United States. This leads a large group of people to either steal social security numbers for themselves, or to sell to illegal immigrants for a profit.

It’s easy to see, then, how employment fraud happens. Many times employers will not do throughout background checks, so a person could be working and living as you and no one would know the difference. All it takes is a social security number.

Protecting Yourself from Fraud

You cannot rely on the government to reduce the amounts of fraud or illegal immigrants in the United States. You need to take steps that will ensure your identify is safe from prying eyes. Here are five ways you can stop identify theft from affecting your life:

1. Shred receipts, credit card offers, returned checks and anything else that has sensitive information.
2. Make sure employers and landlords are keeping your data safe.
3. Consider using a Internet service to help protect your online information.
4. Make sure you bank does not print your Social Security number on checks.
5. Make sure you keep receiving your statements in the mail. The first things thieves change is your billing address.
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Author:  James Knight is a Web developer and smartphone aficionado from Phoenix.