My name is Lonnie, and I'm a victim of identity theft.
So check this out. A buddy of mine wrote a Facebook post about how someone stole his daughter's Social Security number and filed for unemployment benefits with Washington State's Employment Security Division (ESD). Having never occurred to me, I decided to go to ESD and attempt to file an unemployment claim. After I entered the information I received the following message:
The Social Security number (SSN) you entered already exists and is linked to this partly hidden email address: *****@fasternet.co
WHAT??!!??!? I've never filed an unemployment claim in my entire life, and I certainly have never used an email address at fasternet.co. Who the #$%^%! is this?
I read further and saw the following message:
If you think you might be a victim of unemployment imposter fraud - when criminals illegally apply for unemployment benefits using another person’s personal and employment information - report it! Use the form on the Employment Security Department (ESD) website. Then wait to hear from ESD.
I couldn't believe it. I was for the first time in my life a victim of identity theft. And it wasn't through the more traditional path of credit card or banking fraud; it was through unemployment benefits fraud.
As I navigated the what do you do about it path, I learned a lot about the prevalence of identity fraud and just how exposed I was. Experian, one of the three credit reporting companies, published some eye-popping statistics (all as of 2017).
As a result of my experience, I decided to compile everything I did to check for fraud activity and the steps I took once I discovered unemployment benefits fraud occurred. Hopefully these are helpful to you as well.
Identity theft is real, and it can happen to you. The bad guys will never go away, but you can make it more difficult for them by putting some preventative measures in place to protect you and your loved ones from identity theft.
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