There’s been more and more publicity about identity theft, where somebody runs up thousands of dollars on your credit cards. It’s a serious situation, made even worse by the fact that the banking and retail industries are giving top priority to issuing gazillions of new credit cards, and a very low, back-burner priority to preventing identity theft.
There’s also a lesser known variation of identity theft: Hundreds of thousands of stolen Social Security numbers are being used by illegal immigrants so they can get jobs. (Unfortunately, the anti-immigrant crowd will probably try to turn this into a political football so we can keep them furriners out.)
More often than not, several government agencies and private corporations already know about it if your Social Security number is being used by someone else. But they probably won’t inform you until “you” get in trouble for the back taxes or unpaid loans that “you” owe.
The chief marketing officer for the data collection firm ChoicePoint says the average victim sees their Social Security number shared about 30 times. Once a number is obtained, it gets passed around to other family members, and even around a whole neighborhood.
An assistant attorney general from Utah has said "They are destroying people's credit, Social Security benefits, and everything else. This problem has been ignored by the federal government, and it's enormous."
Unfortunately, everybody (except for the victim) benefits from this. There’s more tax revenue for the IRS and the Social Security Administration, banks get more loans and employers get more cheap labor.
So if your Social Security number gets stolen, several banks, employers, the IRS and Social Security are probably aware of it, but they don’t want to upset the apple cart by telling you about it. That is, until you get in trouble with the IRS or a collection agency for the money that “you” owe.