I received a letter over the weekend telling me that the person responsible for stealing my identity has been caught. What’s more, they plead guilty to “Fraud with Identification Documents” (apparently the official Federal crime). Now they are awaiting sentencing. The letter also told me I can submit documentation declaring my “losses” and petitioning for restitution/compensation.
Yeah. Kind of anti-climatic, no? I had resigned myself to not ever knowing who the person was. Instead I focused on “fixing” the problem and re-establishing my name. And despite the fact that they’ve caught the person, I still may never know how they stole my information, which is infinitely frustrating.
I’ve cleared myself of financial responsibility for everything the individual opened using my personal data (almost $50,000 in loans). All loans the individual took out have been removed entirely from my credit report. I’ve cleaned up my credit report, removing all other erroneous data such as false employers and addresses. Actually, I’m still working on removing the person’s address, almost a year after things first started. But there’s no telling what impact this has had on my credit rating. There’s been a lot of activity on my credit report in the past year, including several “fraud alerts.” Anytime a new line of credit is applied for, they have to call me and verify before anything is done. And I have to make sure my contact information is kept current to make this happen. It’s an extra layer in the already complicated world of personal financial health.
But the question remains: how and for what does one ask for compensation? For the stress? The lack of sleep? The anxiety? The tears and frustration? The continued (and, let’s face it, perpetual) vigilance? The time taken to fill out piles and piles of paperwork and submitting reports? The time spent on the phone in the countless phone calls to various individuals, offices, and companies? The abuse/rudeness I received from some (not all, some were very nice) of the people I talked to (like I did this on purpose)? The time spent doing research? The fear that this person was using a driver’s license with my information, potentially impacting my insurance and legal record/status? The fear that still sits in the back of my brain and probably won’t be going away anytime soon despite the fact that they’ve caught the person?
It’s really hard to shake that fear and anxiety and stress…it will probably take years for me to feel comfortable and solid that my identity is really mine.
The number of victims of identity theft is staggering. And it’s growing. Almost 10 MILLION Americans each year are victims. It’s nice to know I’m not alone, yet, proving my identity has not been easy. It sounds so ridiculous, having to prove I am who I actually am. But I’ve spent the last 10 months doing just that.
How does one quantify that into a number?