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Thursday, April 10, 2008


The threat started back in 2005, possibly even earlier before identity theft was so prevalent in the media and on the minds of most consumers. Illegal immigrants were stealing the identities of American citizens in order to get a job, according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in a December 2006 New York Times article. Homeland Security agents had just raided Swift & Company meatpacking plants in six states, arresting 1,282 workers, which turned out to be 10 percent of the company’s workforce. Regardless of your political beliefs, this is a problem that reaches down to the individual level. Chertoff said that illegal immigrants stole the identities of hundreds of American citizens just to get jobs. Like the Secretary promised, this has caused a ripple effect throughout the U.S. Because the Social Security Administration does not track the use of valid SS#s in multiple workplaces, the crime continues. Actually, it is illegal for the SSA to notify victims that their SS# is being used by someone else. This fact, along with several others on the subject can be found on, where they quote an interesting scenario. MSNBC reported how a legal resident from a Chicago suburb went to a Target store to apply for a job and was turned down because someone with her SS# already worked there. Not bizarre enough, she found out her SSN had also been used by 37 other employees to get work, most of which were illegal immigrants. Scambusters tells us that this kind of occurrence happens on average 30 times with a single Social Security number. Other facts reveal that seven million illegal immigrants are currently using stolen SSNs, even paying SS tax. They consider this the price they pay for working in this country. Because many children don’t use their SS# until they are 18, an illegal immigrant can have a field day with their identity for years. If they don’t pay for the credit accounts they have opened in the victim’s name, the 18 year old starts right off with a bad credit report. This also applies to adults whose SS# has been stolen, although most illegal immigrants are probably just interested with getting work. In another article from MSNBC, payments to a SS# with a name that is likely an illegal immigrant, called a “mismatch, come most frequently from the agricultural and restaurant industries. The MSNBC piece says that we are “naïve” or “foolish” if we think the issue will be solved by getting rid of the illegal immigrants, or opening the doors to all who want to come in. But as long as you have crooks that will provide bogus Social Security cards and other means of identification, the problem will continue to get worse. However, if the American citizens who have suffered from this crime had been granted control over their names and personal data, their credit would still be safe, and the employer would have been unable to hire the illegal immigrant. This concept of identity control is a valid solution to the problems with securing private information that face this country today and it is time that the Congress and business start considering their options. More on this in the next post.

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