How does identity theft fit into CitizensForTaxFairness.org’s program?
We define tax fairness as the collection of the absolute minimum amount of revenue necessary to fund the core functions of government and as the effective and efficient management of taxpayer funds.
Therefore, when taxpayer funds are used to hire individuals using our children’s and grandchildren’s stolen identities, it becomes an issue of tax fairness. After all, no one should be forced to pay taxes to support identity theft.
Is child identity theft really a problem in Utah?
According to the Utah Attorney General’s office, identity theft is a very real problem. In fact, an investigation by state and federal authorities “uncovered an alarming new crime spree involving illegal aliens and identities stolen from victims under the age of 12.” For complete details of this investigation, click here. (Utah Attorney General, Press Release - July, 2005)
Just a few figures:
· In 2005, a limited sampling (less than 1% of the population) revealed that 1,800-2,000 Utah children on public assistance and under the age of 12 had their Social Security Numbers (SSNs) being used by someone else. When the data was reviewed a year later, the numbers had tripled in some categories.
· It is estimated that the SSNs of 20,000 to 50,000 Utah children have been compromised.
· In 2000, the Social Security Administration reported that 132,000 Utahan’s Social Security numbers were being used by someone else. That number has likely grown to around 200,000 over the past seven years.
· 1,626 employers reported paying wages to the SSNs of Utah children 12 and under during the 4th quarter of 2005. Many of the children had multiple employers. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg since only the SSNs of children on public assistance were available for checking. (Source: Utah Workforce Services)
· 37 adults were found to be using just one child’s SSN and another child had 27 people using his/her number and the list goes on. (Source: Utah Workforce Services)
KSL-TV has done excellent investigative reporting on child identity theft including reports on a two year old (text video) and a five year old (text video). Make sure to view the video for each report.
What is fueling the identity theft epidemic in Utah?
Over 90 percent of identity theft cases that Utah Assistant Attorney General Richard Hamp prosecutes involve illegal immigrants and about 75% of illegal aliens use fake Social Security numbers according to a Senior Social Security Administration Official.
In addition, Sexual predators use stolen Social Security numbers to get jobs and to hide their identities in order get closer to our children.
But, does it really hurt a child if an illegal immigrant just “borrows” the number in order to get a job?
According to Utah’s Attorney General, it does. "Identity thieves…will steal your children's ID, ruin their credit and hurt them in ways never thought possible before they can graduate from grade school," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
However, the person using your child’s identity sees nothing wrong with what she is doing. Take the case of Ninoska Katia Peñaranda who came to Utah on a business visa. She chose Salt Lake City because it was the headquarters of the LDS church and she had heard about the good people and job opportunities.
She left her husband and children behind in Chile and when her visa expired she remained illegally in Utah. In order to get a job, she stole an American’s name and Social Security number. After she was arrested at the Swift meat packing plant in Hyrum, Utah, she continued to rationalize her action because she was forced to do it in order to get a job, it was the only way she could “legally” work in the United States and because she and others were not stealing. In her own words:
"If I could do it again - I wouldn't do it," Peñaranda said of her identity theft conviction. "[But] the laws of this country force you to do it."
In a recent interview at the Weber County Jail, Peñaranda said she understands that buying a name and Social Security number for $850 was wrong but it was the only way she could work in the U.S. legally. She claims she never used the information for anything else.
"We were working, we weren't stealing," she said. "Not everyone can work at [Swift.] Not everyone can take the 12-hour shifts; it's very hard."
Apologists for identity thieves will tell you that if someone “borrows” your child’s Social Security number, you shouldn’t worry. After all, the person using it is a good, hard working individual doing jobs that Americans won’t do and you will be reminded that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande. They will tell you that the Social Security paid under the number will just go into a suspense account that ultimately helps shore up the Social Security system. And they will tell you that the person stealing the number will pay their taxes so there will be no problems with the IRS.
What they don’t tell you is that as soon as your child’s Social Security number is used to earn income, the IRS, Social Security Administration and credit reporting bureaus all become involved. If the person using the number doesn’t file an income tax return, the true owner of the number may be called on the carpet. If your child needs to be enrolled in Medicaid in order to meet critical healthcare needs, you may find that he is deemed to be ineligible because a review of his Social Security number reveals that he is earning income.
Once a Social Security number is used, it won’t be long before the credit bureaus set up files and then the offers of credit cards, etc. will soon be flowing to the person using the stolen number. Once the identity thief applies for credit, your child faces having her credit devastated only you won’t know about it until she applies for credit in her name because neither the U.S. government or the credit bureaus will not tell you that someone is using her Social Security number.
If the person using your child’s Social Security number is arrested, your child may end up with a criminal record that will later have to be cleared up. In the worst case, your child may end up under arrest until the record is cleared.
When your child is old enough to work, should he need unemployment insurance, he may be denied because someone else is already enrolled under his Social Security number.
Thus, identity theft is a felony for a reason. It is not a victimless crime and that’s why it must be aggressively prosecuted. Furthermore, anyone committing identity theft must never be given amnesty as part of any comprehensive immigration reform plan.
Are there still more ways that identity theft can harm our children?
Stolen identities may be used by sexual predators and other criminals both legally and illegally in the United states to hide their true identities. In fact, in 2006, one of America’s worst pedophiles was arrested in Salt Lake City when an alert landlord questioned his Social Security number.
The individual was know as the king of child pornography a nd had been using the name and Social Security number of a 91 year old man. He had used multiple stolen identities while working as a truck driver for decades without being identified because apparently his employers did not verify his Social Security number or date of birth.
Thus, false identities allow sexual predators, both legally and illegally in the United States, to obtain jobs that bring them into close proximity to their victims.
In addition, individuals who are avoiding child support payments may use false Social Security numbers to avoid having their wages garnished.
What is the penalty for identity theft?
When individuals use Social Security numbers that don’t belong to them in order to get a job, they are committing multiple felonies including:
· Document fraud (fraudulent Social Security cards, green cards, birth certificates, drivers licenses, etc.)
· Perjury on an I-9 form
· Identity Theft
Document fraud and identity theft clearly are not victimless crimes and those engaging in these activities are criminals who should never be granted amnesty from these crimes.
What impact does child identity theft have on families?
The impact of child identity theft can be devastating for a family. At a minimum, it will take hundreds of hours and possibly thousands of dollars to reclaim a child’s identity and there is no guarantee that the problem will not reoccur.
A child impacted by identity theft may find that she is ineligible for financial assistance to pursue her studies, may not be able to get telephone service, may have to clear her name of criminal charges and may be denied public benefits.
KSL-TV and other Utah media outlets have done excellent reporting on the impact of child identity theft including reports on victims who were two years old, five years old and an infant. Make sure to view the video for each report.
How are taxpayer funds used to hire individuals using stolen identities?
Whenever a governmental entity (state, county, city, special district, school district, etc.) hires new staff (permanent, seasonal, part-time, etc.) without verifying identities, it risks using taxpayer funds to pay the salary of individuals who is using our children’s identities.
Likewise, when governments use taxpayer funds to pay contractors, unless those contractors are verifying the identities of their new hires, taxpayer funds may be well be used to pay the salaries of individuals committing document fraud and identity theft.
In addition, economic incentive funds can also be used provide jobs for individuals with stolen identities and taxpayer funds going to non-profit organizations can be used to hire someone using a stolen Social Security number or to provide services to individuals committing multiple felonies (identity theft, document fraud, etc.).
How does an individual get a child’s Social Security number?
There are many ways for someone to get a child’s Social Security number. The most common way is for someone making false Social Security cards to randomly make up a number and put it on a Social Security card with the identity thief’s real name on it. This is Social Security Number Only identity theft and may account for well over 90% of all child identity theft.
Since approximately 50% of all Social Security numbers have been assigned, there is a 50-50 chance that the number chosen will belong to someone else. If the number is unassigned, at a later date it may be assigned to a new born by the Social Security Administration. If that occurs, the infant will be born into identity theft.
In addition, parents or other family members with bad credit histories may use a child’s Social Security number. Illegal aliens who have children born in the United States may give the children the parent’s names and then the parents will use the children’s Social Security cards to get jobs. Divorced parents may also use their children’s numbers and parents with a drug addiction may sell their child’s Social Security number or even the child’s entire identity.
Finally, Social Security numbers may be obtained from hospitals, pediatrician offices, businesses, schools, government records, internet sites and poorly secured family records.
What can be done to prevent the theft of our children’s Social Security numbers?
According to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, “Children are vulnerable even if parents do everything right." However, he further notes that “Employers can help by being more vigilant during the hiring process and verifying an applicant's Social Security number.”
Assistant Attorney General Richard Hamp reconfirmed this when he told a Utah House of Representatives legislative committee that employment verification would go a long way toward curbing identity theft.
In spite of this, very few Utah businesses currently verify Social Security numbers. Some employers may be unaware of just how devastating employer facilitated identity theft can be to their communities. Still others may not know that there are free tools available to them that will allow them to verify the identity of their new hires, and some simply want to be able to hire low cost labor, especially during a time that unemployment rates are so low.
We can all encourage the businesses that we deal with to use the federal government’s E-Verify program to verify Social Security numbers and we can support legislation that requires all employers to verify the Social Security numbers of their new hires. (See below for a description of the E-Verify program). At least that way, if someone has stolen a child’s Social Security number, they won’t be able to use it.
Of course, everyone should continue to take all precautions possible to safeguard Social Security numbers and birth certificates including shredding all documents before disposing of them.
If you would like someone to talk to you or your group about how we can encourage employer’s to verify Social Security numbers, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the E-Verify Program?
The E-Verify program is an Internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-Verify is free to employers and is available in all 50 states. E-Verify provides an automated link to federal databases to help employers determine employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.
Click here for a complete list of questions and answers about E-Verify. Click here for information on how to get started. Click here to sign up for E-Verify.
Is E-Verify able to handle large volumes of requests?
In FY2009, E-Verify processed over 9 million requests and it has been tested to handle as many as 60 million requests per annum. Click here for more information.
Does E-Verify prevent all identity theft?
No. E-Verify does not prevent all types of identity theft. If someone steals an individual’s complete identity – name, date of birth, Social Security number – E-Vefigy will not be able to distinguish the imposter from the real person. Of course, if an adult steals a child’s complete identity, the employer should immediately notice that the birth date entered on the I-9 form and age of the individual don’t match.
E-Verify will, however, catch Social Security Number Only identity theft which accounts for between 90% and 98% of all identity theft. Assuming that 20,000 to 50,000 Utah Children have their Social Security numbers being used by an adult, E-Verify should catch the vast majority of them.
Some employers using E-Verify have found that when the program is first implemented, there are a fair number of hits. When individuals who are using stolen Social Security numbers are advised that there is a problem with their number, they simply disappear. Within a short period of time, the word gets out that the employer is using E-Verify and individuals using fraudulent documents no longer apply for work with that employer so the number of hits drops precipitously.
Why should employers use E-Verify?
Perhaps the most compelling reason for employers to use E-Verify is to protect our children and other citizens from identity theft. Companies that are truly good corporate citizens will do whatever is necessary to insure that they are not contributing to identity theft.
Furthermore, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has shifted its strategy from simply fining employers who hire illegal immigrants. The emphasis is now on bringing criminal charges against employers.
E-Verify doesn’t impose unreasonable costs on employers since it is free and data entry time is minimal. In fact, the time spent entering the data may well be more than offset because (a) the program virtually eliminates Social Security mismatch letters, (b) improves the accuracy of wage and tax reporting, (c) protects jobs for authorized U.S. workers, (d) helps U.S. employers maintain a legal workforce, (e) and establishes a rebuttable presumption that the employer has not knowingly hired an unauthorized alien.
In addition, E-Verify does not permit racial profiling or discrimination because each and every new employee is checked only after being hired and it guarantees employees the right and time to appeal a negative response while continuing to work.
How many companies nationwide use E-Verify?
At the present time, almost 150,000 companies nationwide were enrolled in E-Verify on September 15, 2009 including some of the nation’s biggest employers and there is a concerted effort to get more employers to sign up and to recognize those that do.
At the federal level, as of September 8, 2009, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to use E-Verify to determine the employment eligibility of:
- Employees performing direct, substantial work under those federal contracts
- New hires organization wide—regardless of whether they are working on a federal
- A federal contractor or subcontractor who has a contract with the FAR E-Verify
clause also has the option to verify the company’s entire workforce.
In Utah, all public employers and their contractors are required to use e-verify.
What are some of the Utah companies that use E-Verify?
Adecco Employment Services, Hilton Hotel, La-Z-Boy (Tremonton), LSG Sky Chefs, Marriott Guest Services, Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Company (Provo).
How many State governments use E-Verify?
For a listing of state’s that require E-Verify, click here and go to page 14.
What are Utah governments and businesses doing to prevent identity theft?
To be honest, not very much. With the exception of state legislation requiring public employers and their contractors to use E-Verify, the state’s focus tends to be on helping the victims of identity theft once identities have been stolen. There appears to be a lack of political will on the part of governments at all levels to go after those who are using stolen identities or to take aggressive actions that would make it harder to use stolen identities.
Unfortunately, Utah’s major business groups strongly oppose employment verification and have actively opposed legislation that would have required employers to verify the Social Security numbers in order to protect our children from identity theft.
Utah’s Attorney General has also failed to take steps to prevent and aggressively prosecute illegal immigrant driven identity theft. In fact, Attorney General Shurtleff told illegal immigrants present at the huge immigration rallies held in 2006 that “Many of my fellow Republicans will criticize me for being here. They'll tell me instead of speaking to you, that as the chief law enforcement [officer] of Utah I should be arresting you. [That's] not going to happen."
Former Governor Huntsman refused to put programs in place that would prevent taxpayer funds from being used to hire illegal immigrants and pedophiles using stolen identities.
At the national level, Senator Bennett voted for final passage of S. 2611 (McCain/Kennedy) that would have granted amnesty from prosecution to illegal immigrants committing document fraud and using the stolen identities of our children.
What is CitizensForTaxFairness.org doing to stop taxpayer funds from being used to hire individuals using stolen identities?
CitizensForTaxFairness.org continues to encourage government officials to implement procedures to protect our children from taxpayer funded identity theft. Specifically we want them to effectively and aggressively implement the E-Verify program for all of their new hires as well as requiring all contractors and others receiving taxpayer funds to use it.
How can I help?
If you would like to help out, please contact us on info@CitizensForTaxFairness.org We will get back to you.
If you don’t know how you can help, we will provide you with ideas and resources. We will also provide speakers for your groups and teach you how to be effective citizen lobbyists.
Unfortunately, as a pure grassroots, volunteer group, we do not have an office, staff or funding so everything is done by volunteers.
Where can I go to find out more about identity theft?
A Backgrounder by the Center for Immigration Studies considers how illegal aliens perpetrate document fraud and identity theft in order to obtain jobs, the effects on the victims of these felonies, and presents proposals to deter these crimes. "Illegal, but Not Undocumented: Identity Theft, Document Fraud and Illegal Employment," is written by Ronald Mortensen, PhD, a co-founder of CitizensForTaxFairness.org. Click here to read the Backgrounder.
Ronald Mortensen's blog on illegal immigration provides up to date information on illegal immigration issues with a focus on illegal alien, job related felonies. Click here to go to Ron's blog.
A comprehensive MSNBC report on identity theft. This report explains how the credit bureaus, business and government all contribute to the identity theft problem and how they refuse to let victims know that their identities have been stolen. The report also shows the impact that identity theft has on the victims. Click here to read the story (1/29/05).
KSL-TV - Could Your Child's ID Already Be Stolen? Text and video of an investigative report about a 2 year old girl whose identity was stolen by a 38 year old, male, illegal immigrant. He worked two jobs and took out loans using her Social Security number. According to her mother: "He's registered everything to her number, so he's pretty much become her without the name." The video shows the identity thief being arrested and the difficulties the young family faces in recovering the little girl’s identity. Click here for the story. Click here for the video (2/6/06).
KSL-TV report – Child ID theft a big problem. Text and video of a 5 year old victim of identity theft. The girl’s mother explains the problems she faces and the scope of the problem. Click here to access the story and here for the video (5/30/06).
60 Minutes – IDs Sold to Illegal Immigrants. This 2005 report looks at identity theft and the meat packing industry. When illegal immigrants are arrested with stolen identities, it is the true owner of the identity who has to clear up his or her criminal record. Click here to read the story (4/20/05).
Smartmoney.com – The Secret Life of Your Social Security Number. Stories of Utahan’s who are victims of Social Security Number Only identity theft. Their Social Security numbers were used to obtain mortgages, buy cars, obtain drivers licenses, get credit cards, etc. Click here to read the story (7/8/04).
Blanding Girl Victim of ID theft. An 18 year old, male illegal immigrant using a 2 year old Blanding, Utah girl’s Social Security number is arrested while trying to get a job at the Sundance resort. He is charged with two, third degree felonies - forgery and identity fraud. Click here to read the story (6/14/06).
Springville child Victim of Identity Theft. A 47 year old, male illegal immigrant from Peru is arrested in Springville, Utah for using a 9 year old girl’s Social Security number. The theft was discovered when the child’s mother applied for Medicaid for her 9-year-old daughter — but was told her daughter didn't qualify because the [9 year old] child was already earning income on her Social Security number. The man had not only been working using the girl’s number, but he also had obtained more than $10,000 in loans. Click here to read the story (6/9/06).
Judge Calls for Restitution for Victims of Identity Theft. Frustrated that he has no power to make identity thieves pay for the time victims spend restoring their good credit records, a federal judge, Paul Cassell, is calling for reform of restitution laws. In other words, someone steals your child’s identity and you get nothing to help offset your costs. Even worse, Congress would give illegal immigrants using stolen identities total amnesty from their crimes leaving it up to the people they have victimized to cover the cost. Click here to read about the call for restitution.
A haven for wanted felons. The large number of arrests of wanted felons in Utah, often using false identities, raise the question of whether Utah is coming a haven for wanted felons and if so why? Click here to read about this problem.