Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, and Members of the Subcommittee,
I am a victim of identity theft. In 1995, TRW notified me that my credit history had been illegally obtained by a fraud ring operating nationwide and under investigation by the Secret Service and the Postal Inspector. In my contacts with the Secret Service I was told that this group is probably the Nigerians (featured on some of the national news magazine television shows, e.g. "60 minutes.")
I placed passwords on all bank and credit accounts and told the credit issuers not to make address changes or send duplicate cards without calling us first. In spite of these efforts the group changed the address on a $20,000 MasterCard to a mail-drop in Philadelphia and then charged it to the limit. My husband went to use the card for business and it was refused. This was embarrassing and potentially harmful to his business.
In 1996, we found out they changed the address on the replacement card plus another bank card to a mail-drop in Fullerton, CA. The Fullerton Police found a mailbox rented in my name and two other names. The detective barely missed a suspect who had collected a package delivered by UPS which was addressed to me. The suspect drove a vehicle with false license plates. The clerk described the suspect in a manner which led the Secret Service to conclude that it was the Nigerian group again.
Each time the address on the cards was changed, it was done at a bank branch rather than by telephone. It is my belief that some form of identification was presented that was sufficiently convincing to cause two bank employees to overlook my warnings. This was probably a counterfeit driver's license (easy to obtain). I am greatly afraid that they will get arrested and use the counterfeit license as identification and that I might be arrested on their warrants. Ordinarily, arrestees are fingerprinted and positively identified , but there are various crimes where arrestees are not fingerprinted. For example, in California, Petty Theft is usually treated like a traffic ticket rather than a formal booking. In this case, a person simply signs a promise to appear. Then, if the person fails to honor their promise to appear, a bench warrant is issued. I could be arrested on that warrant. Our Department of Motor Vehicles will not give me a new driver's license number as I have no proof a counterfeit license was used.
We have not suffered any personal financial losses except for telephone bills. However, I have spent countless hours repairing the damage that was done. I hold my breath each time I use a credit card for fear the number has yet again been compromised and it will be refused.
Thank you for your consideration.
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