Earlier this year, a reader sent in a letter about her experiences with identity theft. In her letter, she detailed how she missed out on her dream job opportunity after a background check revealed she failed to appear in courts over tickets she never knew she received. That was because someone stole her identity. By the time she settled her legal issues her dream offer was in limbo.
Months after that letter was published I myself discovered that I had been a victim of identity theft. Someone stole my social security number and used it to work at a roofing company in Oakland. The closet I’ve been to Oakland is a Keyshia Cole album and I probably haven’t used the word roof in a sentence since 1997 (when people used to “raise them”). As you can imagine, I was shocked to find out someone hijacked my social number and treated it like an item at Rent-A-Center.
Are others out there in danger of suffering each of our respective fates?
Crimes such as mortgage fraud, identity theft and, particularly, employee-related schemes appear to be on the rise, according to Orin Snyder, a former federal prosecutor who is now a litigation partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.
"There's no question that during the past year and a half, companies are reporting as a result of the financial contraction a spike in the kind of low-level, garden-variety frauds that in the aggregate can be very significant to companies: things like credit card fraud, insurance fraud and employee embezzlement," says Snyder. "We're also seeing an increase in data breaches and identity theft."
Some of argued against these claims, making the case that companies simply have more time to pay closer attention to fraud. You know, with them having their pick of the litter these days and all.
Not to play the paranoia game, but I can’t help but suspect more people are inclined to try their luck with white collar crime given the sheer desperation in light of the economy. Have you become wearier of being a victim of identity theft with rampant unemployment? Have you already been a victim?
I’d love to hear your stories. Leave feedback below and send your stories (no, I mean it…send them) about your own battles with the recession by writing email@example.com.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.