2008 June 03 Tuesday
Illegal Immigration Driving Identity Theft

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

c.o. jones said at June 4, 2008 7:01 AM:

It's not just Obama. The "solution" that both he and McCain would propose involves amnesty and issuance of SSNs to 20 million illegal aliens. No more fraudulent SSNs, problem solved!

Audacious Epigone said at June 5, 2008 7:20 AM:

The correlation between a state's ID theft victimization rate and its foreign-born population is a vigorous .75. That means more than half (56%) of the magnitude of the ID theft problem in a state is found by simply looking at the relative size of its non-native population. For each 1% increase in the proportion of a state population that is foreign-born, the number of ID theft victims per 100,000 people increases by three. Put in another way, for every 1% increase in the proportion of the total US population that is foreign-born, we can expect another 9,000 citizens to have their identities stolen each year.

The other conventional social indicators of crime do not share anywhere near as strong a relationship: Economic inequality has no statistically significant relationship with ID crime, nor does the percentage of the population that is black, the average educational attainment of adults in a state, or a state's poverty rate; a state's violent crime rate correlates at .54 with ID theft victimization but that is largely a result of how strongly, at .78, the percentage of the population that is Hispanic correlates with it.

Dan Morgan said at June 6, 2008 10:59 AM:

Hey, we can't be cracking down on things like this. The New York Times informed us this week that things like this amount to "restrictionist hatred".


JSmith said at June 6, 2008 8:32 PM:

President Obama???

Have you already given up in McCain?

There is still time.

Randall Parker said at June 6, 2008 10:20 PM:


During a recession the party in power always loses.

Again, during a recession the party in power always loses.

McCain is too old for the Presidency. He wants to continue fighting an unpopular war. He has co-sponsored legislation to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. He's a nut case who harbors huge grudges and has a hot temper.

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