I’d like to tell you three stories that share a similar attribute.
I recently spoke with a lady friend of mine who was concerned that an AOL account was opened in her husband’s name. At the time when this was brought to her attention her husband was at work so she was not able to verify with him weather or not he had opened an AOL account many years prior. She had left messages for him at work and was waiting to hear from him. In the mean time she was very worried and asked me for advice. I explained to her that she had called and spoken to the right people and she should not worry until she heard the final word from her husband. We ended the conversation with her thanking me for listening and she would get with her hubby as soon as possible.
An ex landlord/friend of mine had just picked up a friend of his from the jail in Huntsville, TX. On their way back to Houston they were pulled over by the police. They were not speeding, all vehicle lights were in working order and they weren’t driving recklessly. The police officer approached my friend on the driver’s side of the car and my friend handed over his identification and insurance papers. The officer never explained his reason for stopping the vehicle.
Eventually there was a search of the vehicle and testing of an energy drink my friend had just purchased at a convenience store a few block away. The office accused my friend of cocaine use, and things went down hill from there. The second officer explained that “a black and white guy in a vehicle together in this part of town means something’s up”. (This is called racial profile and it’s illegal) Eventually they were let go because there was no conclusive evidence of cocaine use and of course, my cell phone rang.
A friend of mine who makes his living as a farmer recently contacted me saying he needed legal assistance, advice and possibly representation. I called him and he explained his situation which involved a new land owner taking my friend’s farm land from under him. Needless to say this is not an ideal situation for a farmer.
I let him know how a Legal Shield membership would benefit him in this situation. He said he understood and then made a very forward-thinking statement to the effect of “The world is getting worse and worse. I’ll need a membership for more than just this current situation”.
My farmer friend signed up for a Legal Shield membership and the couple dealing with the fraudulent AOL account signed up for the Identity Theft plan a few minutes after our conversations.
Having been in the field of Identity Theft since 2005 I run into situations like this all the time. Folks are rightly concerned when an unfamiliar account bearing their name suddenly pops up and someone is demanding payment. Thoughts of someone one stealing their credit card number or social security card suddenly race through their heads. They wonder, “What other information of mine did they get a hold of!?” Panic sets in and they dial my phone number. In other situations police are involved and people start wondering what their rights are and how much power the officer really has.
Of course I don’t mind the phone calls. I actually get a lot of satisfaction from teaching exactly how Identity Theft works and the true nature of this silent crime. God has seen me through years as a victim of this malicious act and I am happy to pass on my knowledge on the subject. I really believe that one of the reasons God allowed this experience is so that I can educate others.
But (yeah, you knew it was coming) there’s a problem.
1. Would you get auto insurance after you get into an accident?
2. Would you purchase home-owner’s insurance after your house starts burning down?
3. Would you get health insurance after you are admitted to the hospital?
No you wouldn’t, because it would be plain nonsense. We are called to be forward thinking adults who prepare for adversity and hard times. As my wife, Shenae, would say; “Prepare not Repair”.
Proverbs 6:6-11 has some wise words for us.
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
The Ant, a tiny insect with less intelligence than a human, is smart enough to consider the uncertain future and make preparations for it.
So are you prepared for when identity theft hits you and your family? Do you have a plan in place to deal with someone using your information illegally? No? You really should!!
Something for you to think about:
Let’s say tomorrow morning you are on your way to work and you get pulled over for a busted taillight. You hand your information to the officer who then checks your background. Then you notice a second police car pulling up behind you and the original officer returns to your vehicle asking you to step out of your car. He informs you that you’re being arrested for outstanding traffic warrants. You are confused because you know you haven’t received a traffic ticket in over ten years. You appear before the judge a few days later and are forced to pay several fines in order to get out of jail. Also, part of your punishment is having your license suspended. To make matters worse warrants keep popping up in your name years and years down the road and you discover your social security card has been stolen. You then are contacted by the IRS who inform you that you owe over 50,000 dollars in back taxes. When you ask how that could possibly be they inform you of the two jobs you held in another state. This is also very confusing and frustrating because you have never visited that particular state in your entire life. Additionally. you are evicted from your home and your car is repossessed.
Here’s the question:
How do you go about cleaning up all of this without valid identification, no social security card and no vehicle?
I’m sure you can see how difficult this can be. I lived this life, trust me it’s not easy at all! If I had been educated on what Identity Theft was and how to prepare for its inevitable appearance life would have been a lot easier.
I’ll leave you to ponder the information here till next week when we talk about the five major areas of identity theft.