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ID Theft, Jobseekers, Background Checks & the Case of Michael Anderson

by Tom Ahearn 5/20/2009 10:13:00 AM

As if finding work in these tough economic times wasn’t already hard enough, this story from WHAS-TV Channel 11 in Louisville, KY tells us about a Kentucky jobseeker who is discovering first-hand how identity theft can turn the dream of landing a job into a nightmare.

Like most of us who have ever looked in a telephone book or visited social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, Michael Anderson realizes that he shares his name with many others in this country.

Unfortunately, according to the WHAS11 report, another Michael Anderson living in the United States also shares THIS Michael Anderson’s date of birth AND his social security number. Even worse – especially considering that most employers now routinely run criminal background checks on jobseekers before hiring – the OTHER Michael Anderson has an extensive criminal record that includes indecent behavior with a juvenile and assault.

How does THIS Michael Anderson know? Because every time a potential employer runs a criminal background check on him, the OTHER Michael Anderson’s criminal history shows up. As a result, no one will hire him.

At first, WHAS11 reported, Anderson couldn't understand the background check results. He would tell himself: “It wasn't me.” But when he took a closer look at the background check documents, Anderson realized it was him – his name, his birthday, his social security number, and – in the eyes of potential employers – his criminal past.

Where in many cases identity thieves steal information outright from someone they are not connected with, what makes Anderson’s identity theft case unusual is that the identity thief shares the same name and date of birth as the victim, according to the WHAS11 report.

While Anderson’s case is unusual, identity theft is not. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud increased 22 percent in 2008, affecting nearly ten million Americans. Overall, approximately 1.8 million more adults fell victim to identity fraud in 2008 as compared to 2007, the first year-over-year increase since Javelin began collecting data in 2004.

Identity theft victims can file a police report and put out a fraud alert, but it's tough to recover from a serious case. On average, it can take victims like Anderson up to seven years – depending on the severity of the identity theft – to get their lives back in order.

Jobseekers suffering from lost employment opportunities due to mistakes and misunderstandings uncovered during background checks are becoming more common. – a pioneer in personal background checks for individuals – helps jobseekers gain the protection they need against identity theft by allowing them total access to their own personal information. With an account from, jobseekers can make sure no errors or inaccuracies exist in their background checks and find out if they have been victimized by identity theft.

For more information on how jobseekers can protect themselves from identity theft through personal background checks, please visit, email, or call 1-800-503-2364.

(UPDATE: Soon after posting this story, I was contacted by Linda Foley, Founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of identity theft. She would like Michael Anderson – and other victims of identity theft – to know that they can find help, support, and no-cost victim assistance at the ITRC website located at or by calling toll-free 1-888-400-5530.)

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5/28/2009 5:28:04 AM #

I agree with you. Finding a job is never easy these days. One of the burdens behind this is the struggling economic situation and increasing incidence of identity theft. Speaking of seeking for a job, anyone looking for a little extra cash could try cleaning houses. Cleaning houses on the side might make a nice little bit of casual income. However, you have to be reasonable, and make sure the rate you charge is competitive and fair. It could keep you from needing short term loans for a while, if you do a good enough job. Advertising your services is a good idea, and since there are several services you can advertise through on the cheap or free, such as Craigslist or local want ads, there's definitely opportunity to be had.  A small payday loan to start a small side business cleaning houses could be well spent.

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6/26/2009 7:58:27 AM #

Good stuff.Finding a job is never easy these days. One of the burdens behind this is the struggling economic situation and increasing incidence of identity theft.

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6/28/2009 1:38:47 AM #

I had a friend who's identity was stolen, twice (husband and wife "team") and I witnessed just how long it takes to clear something like this up. It ruined his credit for quite some time even though they caught those who were using his SS#. I keep a close eye on my credit report to make sure nothing is going on like that. I am curious, has anyone pulled the stats to see if ID theft occurs more with men or women?

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7/9/2009 3:30:10 AM #

This now bothers me. I'm a job seeker and very dependent on social networking and now I am very visible on-line. Does this make me susceptible to identity theft?

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8/5/2009 3:40:23 PM #

I think everyone knows someone whose identity was stolen. I think there need to be stronger consumer protection in place to help stop these fast growing crimes.

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8/10/2009 4:23:38 PM #

Finding a job is never easy these days.

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9/3/2009 3:34:30 AM #

great post

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9/25/2009 11:35:38 AM #

I think it is great that they have insurance if identity theft.  That I know off mine is still safe, but from what i understand it is a lot of work to get your identity back.  Do you know if you have to get a separate rider if you go out of the country a lot.

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10/1/2009 11:55:17 AM #

It amazes me the extra paperwork that is now required before getting a new job since 9/11. And all this extra paperwork is actually making identity theft easier because now there is more information tied together about each of us.

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10/3/2009 1:03:44 PM #

Now I not only have to look after my son but also my credit reports. And it's not only the credit accounts. Children are prone to giving out too much information online because they trust too easily and hence you are bound to loose your information

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10/9/2009 12:42:32 PM #

I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

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10/24/2009 9:26:22 AM #

Identity thieves has become more creative and bolder these days. Lessons learned from Mr. Anderson should be taken very seriously. If we aren't careful then we might be victims too.

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10/26/2009 4:49:36 AM #

This is great information!  People are so uninformed about identity theft.  Common facts that we leave on the internet everyday (date of birth) is used for identity theft.  We have to be careful!  Thank you for getting the word out.

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10/26/2009 8:51:49 AM #

This is the best post on this topic i have ever read.


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11/24/2009 3:24:18 AM #

Good stuff.Finding a job is never easy these days.

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1/3/2010 3:22:24 AM #

Interesting post

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