The Federal government doesn’t care. Employers don’t care. Creditors don’t care. Social security numbers are the “gateway drug” of identity theft. Once a thief has your digits, a world of wicked possibilities open up. So, why doesn’t anyone care if you are not the only one using your SSN?
It’s the Economy, Stupid
It’s that simple. Federal law mandates all employers secure a valid SSN from prospective hires. Tens-of-thousands of illegal immigrants wouldn’t be able to work in our country if they didn’t “borrow” a legal resident’s social security number. Think about the negative impact on the economy if none of these people worked. Thousands of businesses would flounder, and billions of dollars would drain from the U.S. economy. It’s not only illegal immigrants who are playing “share the wealth” with your SSN. Thousands of U.S. citizens are playing this game as well: people with bad credit, no credit, criminal records, you name it — they get a fresh start with your “clean” personal information.
From a Trickle to a Drip
People with stolen social security numbers spend money — and get loans for cars and houses. Our already-slowed economy could further stall if all these people lost their (or rather, someone else’s) buying power. So there’s not really a problem with some stranger pretending to be you, right? Everyone deserves the chance to achieve the American dream, even if they need to do it with someone else’s identity, right?
Who’s Gonna Clean Up This Mess
If someone “borrows” you Social Security Number and behaves, you’ll likely never know about it. But when they default on a loan, or owe money from legal proceedings, you’re the one everyone will come after. Even after you prove it wasn’t, you’re out of luck. Creditors and law enforcement follow the path to the biggest payoff. And since your doppelganger has defaulted and skipped town, you’re left with a big target on your back.
Hope for the Hapless
So who cares then? You do! Don’t let the indifference of other people stop you from protecting your own identity. The only way to fight this abuse is to get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Do it often, so you can catch any suspicious activity early. Even then, there’s a good chance an ID thief won’t show up on your radar. So that leaves you and me hoping for the continued success of our “social twin.”