Monday, August 13, 2007

Consumer columnist's brush with identity theft

The CFC's 2004 Journalist of the Year, David Lazarus, discusses his personal experience being a victim of identity theft in his inaugural column at the LA Times:

Like most victims of ID theft, I couldn't get anyone in law enforcement interested in my case. Only about 1% of cases reportedly result in convictions. So I went after Davis myself.

Long story short, I compiled an extensive file of Davis' doings and whereabouts and then shared the info with a sympathetic investigator working for the U.S. Postal Service. This resulted in Davis' arrest and eventual conviction in 2003 for Social Security fraud.

Because he was in the country illegally, Davis was subsequently deported to his native Jamaica, where, in my more resentful moments, I imagine him kicking it on the beach and smirking about not having to serve a single day in prison for leaving my credit record in tatters.

And that, I hoped, was the end of it. But no. Last week, I was informed that my efforts to buy a home here in Los Angeles were on the verge of collapsing because the claims against Davis filed by the casinos are still on file somewhere. The mortgage company thus saw me as a bad bet.

...After days of frantic negotiations, all the legwork I did on my ID theft finally convinced the top execs of the mortgage company that maybe I'm not quite the credit risk that Davis' casino trespasses would indicate. The loan was approved.

But how is it that, years after Davis was convicted for stealing my identity, he's still screwing up my life? Foley, of the Identity Theft Resource Center, said this wasn't unusual."You think you get everything solved," she said, "and then it's like a ghost that reappears."

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