Steven Malanga reports on a huge rise in identity theft driven by illegal immigration.
As everyone knows, America is experiencing an epidemic of identity theft. In the last five years alone, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission from U.S. residents who have had their identity stolen have skyrocketed 60 percent, to 258,427 in 2007—one-third of all consumer fraud complaints that the commission receives. What’s less well understood, however, is how illegal immigration is helping to fuel this rash of crime. Seeking access to jobs, credit, and driver’s licenses, many undocumented aliens are using the personal data of real Americans on forged documents. The immigrants’ identity theft has become so pervasive that the need to combat it is “a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The FTC’s latest statistics help show why. The top five states in terms of reported identity theft in 2007 all have large immigrant populations—the border states of Arizona, California, and Texas, as well as Florida and Nevada. People who pilfer legitimate identities in these states are much more likely than in other parts of the country to use them to gain employment unlawfully—the most common reason that illegal aliens steal personal information. In Arizona, for instance, 36 percent of all identity theft is for employment purposes, compared with only 5 percent in Maine, a state with far fewer illegal aliens. “To many law enforcement leaders in Arizona, this suggests that Arizona’s identity-theft epidemic is directly linked to the problem of illegal immigration,” says a recent report by Identity Theft 911, an Arizona company that helps businesses and individuals protect themselves.
Getting your identity stolen can throw you into a nightmare.
Americans who have their identity stolen by these gangs are in for major headaches. Among the complaints filed with the FTC is that of a Texas man arrested for a crime committed by an illegal alien who had filched his identity. In another case, highlighted by Nevada senator John Ensign in last year’s immigration-reform debate in Congress, the Internal Revenue Service hit a woman with a $1 million back-tax bill, even though she was a stay-at-home mom. An investigation later found that 218 illegal aliens were using her Social Security number. A Los Angeles police detective—who, ironically, worked in the department’s fraud bureau—was unable to buy a home because of bills piled up by an illegal immigrant who stole his Social Security number to gain employment at a processing plant. Then the IRS served the cop with a bill for $40,000 in back taxes; when he protested, the agency threatened to send his case to collection. Other legal residents have had their unemployment claims or workers’ compensation cases rejected after government records showed that someone with their Social Security number was working.
When President Obama takes office you will need to demand your Congressional representatives pass legislation that cracks down on illegal immigration in general and identity theft in particular.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 June 03 10:36 PM Immigration Law Enforcement|