A common question that we hear from victims calling into our Victim Assistance Call Center is, “Who would ever want to steal MY identity?” They are surprised that anyone would waste their time trying to abuse their identity as they often believe there is nothing to gain.
Some victims believe that because their credit score is low, their credit cards are maxed out or they are being sued by creditors, their identity isn’t attractive enough for an identity thief to steal.
This is simply not true. No matter what your income, your credit score, or your net worth might be, you are a target. No matter what the amount of credit you have available or whether or not you are insured, you are a target. The bottom line is your identity does have value in the right hands.
Yes, your credit situation may limit an identity thief’s ability to get a mortgage or a large loan in your name, but it will rarely limit their ability to get payday loans or similar low amount, high-interest loans. Even with a poor credit score, a criminal would likely still be able to get a very low limit credit card to use in your name. Beyond financial identity theft, they could also use your identity for criminal identity theft, medical identity theft or government identity theft.
Each of these other categories of identity theft does not require a good credit score or solid financial background. Medical identity theft does not require a good credit score or a healthy financial background. Some victims also believe that since they have no medical insurance, their identity is worthless for purposes of medical identity theft.
Again, this is not true. Your uninsured identity can be used to receive emergency services at health care providers where the identity thief will receive treatment in your name first, and then you will receive the bills later. Just one incident like this and you could have thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent medical bills.
Like medical identity theft, criminal identity theft does not require a “good” identity with a healthy credit score. An identity thief can steal your identity, and use it to trick law enforcement into thinking that they are you when they get arrested. A situation we have come across many times is when a criminal is pulled over for a routine traffic stop and does not want to give law enforcement their true identity lest they are arrested for prior crimes.
Instead, they give a fraudulent driver’s license to the police officer which has their picture, but all of your personal information. They receive a ticket, avoid being arrested, and never show up to traffic court to pay or fight the charges. Now you have to deal with having a warrant out for your arrest for failure to appear in court that you only find out about when you are pulled over by a police officer, and arrested. There are many, many ways to abuse someone’s identity even if they have bad credit. Do not think that since you are in a bad financial situation you are now immune to all forms of identity theft. You are always a target and identity thieves are always on the prowl.