Skip to comments."Identity Theft: How to Protect and Restore Your Good Name" (can't stress enough - MUST READ)
Posted on 10/10/2004 7:43:47 PM PDT by Former Military Chick
Identity Theft Victim Stories
Identity Theft Victim Stories
Written Testimony of Michelle Brown
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING
Senator Jon Kyl, Chairman
"Identity Theft: How to Protect and Restore Your Good Name"
Written Testimony of Michelle Brown
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, it is my pleasure to submit testimony to your committee today and hope that my presence will shed some light on the invasive crime known as Identity Theft.
My name is Michelle Brown, I am 29 years old, and currently reside in a respectable community in the surrounding area of Los Angeles, California. I have been gainfully employed in international banking for the last 7 years since my graduation from a University in California. I am much like most other hard-working, conscientious individuals, eager to get ahead in life and to make a respectable living; however, one thing clearly sets me apart from the rest of the crowd. I have endured the trying chores of realizing that I have become, and subsequently, have been painstakingly trying to break free from being, an identity fraud victim.
It was a scenario I had only previously known through unbelievable stories painted in Hollywood: someone becomes you, erases your life, and through their destructive behaviors, complicates your own existence to an extreme level where you no longer know how to just live day after day. Your life becomes the life consumed by unraveling the unthinkable acts that your perpetrator has done in your perceived skin.
I discovered on January 12, 1999, the existence of this shadow identity that I have been anxiously trying to expel from my life ever since. To be truthful, I don't think I will ever be able to close the books entirely on this menace's activities. I dearly wish I could, but what I know now translates to the fact that I will always be dealing with this alter reality I am plagued with.
Over the course of a year and a half, my name, personal identifiers and records were grossly misused to obtain over $50,000 in goods and services, to rent properties, and to engage in federal criminal activities-namely drug trafficking. During the course of 1999, I spent countless sleepless nights and seemingly endless days, dedicating my valuable time, energy, peace of mind, and what should have been a normal life, trying to restore my credit and my life.
I filed various statements and affidavits, had documents notarized, made thousands of phone calls to creditors, governmental authorities, etc., and continually set in motion the next level of protection for further follow up and monitoring. I alerted all the proper authorities, filed all the right papers, made the right phone calls, and diligently remained actively adamant to restore my perfect credit and my good name. I would estimate that the time lost toward clearing my credit, attempting to clear my criminal record, and to sever myself free from this menacing being, amounted to somewhere in excess of 500 hours of my time. At the time, the burden seemed like it cost me a lifetime.
In the course of restoring my credit and my name, I realized that I was victimized by someone without conscience. This person was not a normal, socially responsible individual and would stop at nothing. In restoring my name, I discovered the following about her and her fraudulent activities:
Through the course of uncovering her trail and waiting for her to be caught, I honestly believed that the victimization would never end, that I would never become whole again as the true "Michelle Brown." My world had become a living nightmare. I personally was affected extremely: I was significantly distracted at a job that I had just started three weeks prior to the day of discovery, I suffered from a nearly non-existent appetite, very little sleep, and was consumed with the ferocious chore of restoring my name and attempting to quell any future abuse. I lost identification with the person I really was inside and shut myself out of social functions because of the negativity this caused on my life. I know that a very meaningful 3 year relationship with my then boyfriend suffered dearly because of the affect this traumatic chapter of my life had on me - the relationship ended about 4 months later.
No words will ever be strong enough to completely convince others what this period was like, filled with terror, aggravation, unceasing anger and frustration as I woke every day (since my discovery of the identity fraud in January 1999) with emotionally charged, livid angst. I unceasingly was forced to view life through a clouded reality, one seriously altered by a horrendous individual who committed a series of unforgivable acts in my name. The existence of Heddi has robbed me of the normal life I have strived for and entirely deserve. My life should be one in which I, and I only, should be the only one being held responsible and accountable for my personal credit history and what should be, a lack of a criminal history.
For me, the most personally frightening moment was dealing with LAX's Customs and fearing an erroneous arrest. Because of this situation, I purposely have NOT gone out of the country for fear of some mishap, confusion, language barrier, that may land me in prison for some unknown period of time. I do not deserve to be in this predicament and do not deserve to feel imprisoned by the U.S. Borders. I still fear what might happen as I cross the U.S. Border and I cannot get assurance from any governmental agency that this situation will never happen again.
Identity fraud (especially those cases escalated to a criminal level) leaves a very dark and filthy cloud around the victim. Although I am the free Michelle Brown, living what may on the surface seem to be a normal life with freedom on the streets, I have never deserved less than that: a normal life, one free of the ill effects of a heinous individual who deliberately and unabashedly used and abused my world that I had always been so careful to create and maintain. I am a law-abiding, good natured and caring individual, contributing through legitimate business and upstanding citizenship, who never deserved to be haunted with this naggingly irritating air Heddi has shadowed me with.
Clearly many preventive measures and protective procedures need to be enforced to prevent such a horrendous crime from being so easy and attractive for a perpetrator to facilitate. Below I've attached a list of items highlighting some of the weaknesses I see with the current system.
I thank you for your time and consideration and hope that my case can provide you with the awareness that this is truly a real crime, with real victims, and dire life-altering consequences attached.
During the course of the restoration of my credit and my personal records, including criminal associations, I can identify the following faults in the current system:
Additional recommendations, while not directly applicable to my case, would help prevent the extent of fraudulent activities:
| New Postings & Alerts | Fact Sheets | Páginas Informativas | Speeches & Testimony |
This is a horrific crime. I laugh when I see the commercial where the perpetrator is talking through the victims voice, saying how they are having a nice time going through the victims money.
Wrong flat out wrong. Please, if this upsets you as it has me, send this to your friends and family, this certainly will put into perspective this crime and what to watch out for!
Crime does not pay ***ping***!
Folks like to say this will not happen to you, well it can happen to you or someone you know and/of love.
Please read and pass on to those you care about. You can never be to informed when it comes to identity theft.
where does it say what you can do to protect yourself?
Some would say in regard to invasions of privacy "What do you have to hide?"
Well, in this case, even if you haven't done anything wrong, invasions into your so-called personal records could tar you, cause unmerited detentions, and all other sorts of problems. Imagine the job applications that get turned down, or how your insurance premiums go up, to say the least.
The title does not match up with the text very well.
I don't see much there in the way of "how to protect and restore your good name".
Bump for later.
At the end of the document there is several good points, most should be well like clock work .. but we do get busy and put of tomorrow what we should do today.
Such as running a credit report to make sure nothing on it isn't from you.
Link I got through my Congressman's website:
I am sorry that you feel that way, I suppose there could be a better name, but, that was what was on the official document and I did not want to change it.
I do think that many of the remarks should make anyone reflect on their actions and take note. Who has access to your information. Who might be the ones that let this slip through the cracks. It is an eye opener. Maybe I was wrong to post this .. maybe it is not that big deal.
Wow, this lady is very strong for getting through this experience.
what irks me is why a consumer has to setup fraud alert with three different credit agencies (Equifax, trans union, and I forget the third one). why isn't there just a single point of contact for this?
First I am so sorry that you had to go through such an experience. I hate all crime. But, you know there are some you just have the gut yuck feeling. There are no scars physically but I can only imagine the scars that one cannot see.
They take your life, all the good things you have done and destroy it. Then it is up to the victim to remedy the situation. Frankly, I was the victim of a violent crime, and I know the depth one can go. You never feel whole again. At least with mine, there isn't the daily reminder that I am sure you have felt as others I am sure are going through.
Victims seem to have little rights, it is all about protecting the rights of the accused. Someone one day will finally get it ..we are victims we do not need to prove we are and treat us with respect and not make us work to prove we are the ones wronged.
Your information will be helpful not only to myself but I am sure to others who read your post. Thank you.
until victims start suing the financial institutions - and winning settlements, nothing will change.
No, this IS a big deal!
Identity theft is on the rise, and it can make your life a living hell.
The best advice I saw in this article was about your Social Security Number.
With that number, ANYONE can become YOU!
That number must be closely guarded. It is not an identification number to be used indiscriminately.
Unfortunately, the only real solution is a partial solution and sounds too "big brother."
Everyone's SSN is out there and hard to hide - some States use it as a DL number and try to get medical attention without giving it.
If everyone's SSN was their DL number, a merchant could swipe a credit card (etc.) and have the DMV picture come up showing true ownership. This would work at point of sale, not internet purchases.
"Added" to favorites folder. :)
Many health insurance companies use the pimary insured's SSN as the account number. Look at you own BCBS card. Even if you take care to secure your SSN, if you want to be prepared in the event of an accident, a simple pickpocketing puts you at risk.
Contact info for all three were on another page of the link I posted. Could be worse. There could be even more. They are not government operations, though they are strongly regulated via consumer rights legislation. The credit agencies are private operations, much used information gathering services for subscribers.
Do I need to get reports from all three reporting companies to be sure there is no mischief going on?
Check all 3.
She's made it her lifes work to steal someone elses life. I don't see any problem with someone taking hers.
Dude, that was extremely extreme!
What an excellent post, thank you so much. I am sure that others are equally appreciative of your energy spent on offering solutions and avenues to not fall victim to such evil in our world.
Great googly-moogly, from 2 years ago!
Dunno how valid the links, addresses & numbers are these days, but I'll vouch for my personal tips.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.