Illegal immigrants are stealing your identity
By Justin Darr
Here is something to say to yourself as you are watching the May 1st illegal immigration protests, "I could be one of them."
Quite literally, you could be. You are probably well aware of the raid by Federal authorities last month that found over 1000 employees of IFCO Systems were illegal immigrants. However, what you are not aware of is the fact that in the audit leading up to the raid, according to CNN, over 53% of IFCO's entire work force was using fake or stolen social security numbers. Whose numbers? Who knows! The federal government, IRS, and Social Security Administration are not saying. Nor, are they planning on it because to do so would highlight to the public the greatest threat posed to the average American by illegal immigration, identity theft.
If you have started a new job in the United States since 1986, then you are familiar with the first day ritual of producing your Social Security card and drivers license for your new employer to complete the federal I-9 "Employment Eligibility Verification" form. There are several reasons for this report, the first is to ensure that all your personal information is correct so your withholding taxes can be credited properly, the second is for the employer to verify that you are actually you and not an imposter, and the third to verify that you are either a citizen, or authorized immigrant eligible to work in the United States.
The third one is the kicker for illegal immigrants. Obviously, if you are here illegally, you are not going to have any of this documentation. So, luckily for illegal immigrants, the black market has rushed to the rescue by creating the multimillion dollar industry of selling counterfeit Social Security cards, and even entire "citizenship kits" containing, in addition to the Social Security card, a drivers license and birth certificate.
This is where the fun begins for you and me. Where do you think they get the information on these documents? Sometimes from death records or "dumpster diving" through your trash to find a misplaced piece of personal information. But more often than not, they are just made up.
According to Bob Sullivan, of MSNBC.com, there is over $420 billion in tax money sitting in the "Earnings Suspense File" of the IRS and Social Security Administration because they do not know to whom the money should be credited because it was paid under invalid, or misnamed, Social Security numbers. The numbers of invalid tax filers has exploded exponentially during the past five years, 9 million in 2002 alone, coincidentally, coinciding with the latest wave of illegal immigration from Mexico. And, according to Sullivan, "most -- between 50 and 80 percent depending on whom you talk to -- represent illegal immigrants using a stolen or manufactured Social Security number at the workplace."
You might be thinking right now, "So, what's the problem? If someone is in the United States illegally, at least they have the decency to pay their taxes. Even if it is with a fictitious Social Security number." You might be right as long as you do not consider the problem of what happens when someone guesses a Social Security number that already belongs to someone.
The beauty of this situation is if it ever happens to you, you will be the last one to know about it. In fact, you will probably never know about it because credit bureaus, the IRS, and Social Security do not inform people when their social security numbers are being used by someone else. Nor, can you find out since the information on those who stole your personal information is considered "confidential."
You will just have to wait around until there is a problem to find out. Maybe it will be a friendly letter from the tax office demanding thousands of dollars in back taxes, being denied a loan because the person using your numbers jumped on an apartment lease, not getting a job because the work history on your credit report does not match your resume, not getting unemployment insurance in New Jersey because you have a job in Arizona, or, for some real excitement, finding your name on the Texas Department of Public Safety's "Sex Offender Database" which allows you to track pedophiles by Social Security number.
Sounds like fun! Who knows, maybe your five year old is already in debt for an Audi!
The entertainment will go on and on since our elected leaders are evidently planning on turning the illegal immigration crisis into a political circus that will generate nothing but useless sound bits until the situation gets so bad they are forced to act. The problem is we are already to that point, they just do not realize it. Let us hope that whoever steals your identity is on their best behavior until they do.
Justin Darr is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area with his wife and twin children. He can be read widely on the Internet and in publications across North America and in Europe. Justin Darr is a staff writer for The New Media Alliance, and proud member of the MoveOff Network. © April 2006, Justin Darr
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