Election season is heating up and a lot of Americans who have never seen a ballot box are finally registering to have their vote counted. Unfortunately, during election season, we often see voters become victims of identity theft. The most unfortunate part is if the voter isn't paying attention, it could be years before the fraud is even discovered.
Here's how the con works. A very savvy and articulate con artist will call you posing as the voter registrar's office. They will say they are confirming information in their database and ask if you are the individual by your name who has registered to vote. They will then ask you to confirm your address, birthday and social security number. This is the key information required to establish credit in your name to get, oh let's say a cell phone or even a credit card. If the con person uses your social security number with another address, you may never even get the notices that you have defaulted on the account in your name. Rest assured, the affected companies will report "your" bad debt, affecting your credit rating, but how will you know?
Well, this happened to me. And it was before the FTC made a free annual credit report mandatory without penalty. I didn't check my credit on a regular basis, and I did not find out until four years after the crime was committed that someone had used my social security number, which they had stolen from my employer, to lease cell phones and default on the bill. I discovered my bad credit when I attempted to refinance my house. I tried, in vain, to contact the cell phone companies and a department store to let them know the debt was not mine. They did not want to hear my story; they only wanted a police report. So, I took the time off work and went down to the station and filed a report. Once I provided that to the defrauded companies, they corrected my credit report. It took numerous letters and 1/2 day off work so yes, it was a pain. For one company I had to provide three forms of proof that I did not live in Atlanta four years ago. It sounds easy, but it wasn't. Could you do it? Do you save your bills for four years?
The bigger question is, have you looked at your credit report lately? How about your kids’? Sadly, a family member is the number one identity thief and more and more children are having their credit affected by desperate family members. Do yourself a favor. Check out the family's credit today at www.annualcreditreport.com. It’s safe, quick and easy. If you find a problem, report it. And if the voter registrar's office calls asking for your social security number (not just the last four digits, which they will sometimes do,) don't hesitate to hang up.