Prevention tips abound on how to try to avoid identity theft, but what do you do once you are the victim of Social Security number theft?
Dale Boring, a former lead detective for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and current special agent for the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, said prosecution in these cases can be complicated but is often possible.
“Where prosecution becomes tricky is when the victim is on one side of the country and the suspect is on the other side,” he said.
“The criminal activity is occurring wherever the suspect happens to be, but the prosecutor in that jurisdiction might not consider it to be financially sound to pay to have the victim fly across the country to testify before a grand jury or in a criminal trial. Without that victim, the case dies.”
His agency targets fraud, waste, and abuse of the Social Security Trust Fund and the Supplemental Security Income program. What happened to Dannica Dillenbeck is referred to as misuse.
There is no specific federal agency fighting the crime of Social Security theft.
Laws very state to state, and a handful of Oregon laws address the issue, and the crime could be prosecuted at the state level, Boring said.
“Both the identity theft statute in Oregon and the aggravated identity theft statute are classified as felonies and are fairly easy to prove,” he said. “They also specifically list the Social Security number or tax identification number in the statute as protected identity information.”
Additionally, “when a person comes in for an interview and presents a (misused) Social Security card, that is when the crime of first-degree forgery occurs,” said Sgt. Steve Dorn, a detective with the Albany Police Department.
If you are the victim of Social Security number theft, or another identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission offers the following four steps to complete “immediately.”
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports. Call any of the three major credit reporting agencies — they will automatically alert the other two on your behalf.
2. Close any credit or checking accounts that may have been tampered with or opened without your consent.
3. File a report with the local police or the police in the area where the identity theft took place. Or both.
4. Call the FTC. They can provide appropriate referrals. 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338.)