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. MyBackgroundCheck.com – 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 MyBackgroundCheck.com, 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 www.mybackgroundcheck.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 www.idtheftcenter.org or by calling toll-free 1-888-400-5530.)
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