continued So far, Huckabay hasn't suffered any attacks on her credit. But it's a constant worry to her. "I'm concerned about credit cards," she admits. "I have only one credit card. I would not have more than one because of this situation."
She realized she had a full-blown problem on her hands when the accountant for her current employer called. "He said, 'Carol, I've gotten some paperwork from California Educational Development Department seeking child support, and it's got your Social Security number on it.' What happened was, the child-support service in Los Angeles tries to track people down through their Social Security number. That's how it came to me. And now, not only have I gotten the one child-support collection notice, I've gotten two regarding two different people who are using my Social Security number. Mr. Cruz owes $32,000 in back child support. The other gentleman, Mr. Zelayandia, owes almost $17,000 in back child support. Now, they're both Juan Angel, so I think it could be the same man with two different last names."
From the California Employment Development Department, Huckabay obtained a list of names and employers for everybody working under her Social Security number. "I have contacted all of their employers, most of which are in the garment district in Los Angeles, and they all denied knowing the individuals. Yet the list came from EDD. So they know that this man, or men, worked at all these companies."
Margenau says the onus is on employers to not allow these people to work under somebody else's Social Security number. "If somebody is using [Huckabay's] number, and they're working with that number and reporting her number to an employer, then we know there's a discrepancy because earnings show up. When reporters report earnings to us, we match a name with a Social Security number. So, if we get a report from an employer, and the name and the number don't match, then we go back to the employer and let them know. Then it's up to the employer to go back to the employee and say, 'What's going on?' But lots of times they don't do anything about it."
In addition to contacting the Employment Development Department and the Social Security Administration regarding her identify being stolen, Huckabay has signed up with the Federal Trade Commission's identity-theft clearinghouse website, which she says is little more than an information-gathering device. And she's registered with the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General in Washington. That office repeated what Tom Margenau says: "We can fix your Social Security record. It's your responsibility to work with the credit bureaus to correct credit problems that have resulted from your number being stolen. As a last resort, we'll issue you a new number."
Nedrow says Huckabay could bring her case to his office. "We will triage it," he explains. "We look at the situation and find out what the substantive crime is. If it's about credit card fraud, that's a Secret Service jurisdiction. Let's say it's a fugitive who's trying to conceal his true identity and establish a new one. The primary agency there is the United States Marshal, because they track fugitives. If it's about illegal aliens, if that's the true crime -- somebody illegally trying to get into the country and stay -- that's Immigration and Naturalization. And, quite frankly, what happens in this area is a lot of the illegal aliens will hijack somebody else's Social Security number to work. Those cases are more appropriately subject to having Immigration and Naturalization grab up readethe person and having the person deported back to the country they came from. We may not pursue a case into the depths of hell if it doesn't look like it has a lot of prosecutorial potential, but we will take a look at it."
Like Margenau, Nedrow offers the idea of getting a new Social Security number as a last resort. But the idea of changing the number she's had all her life offends Huckabay. "Why should I have to change my original number?" she asks. "Besides, I have brokerage accounts, I have two trust deeds, I own property. It would be so complicated for me to have to change all of this at this point in time. It's a ridiculous idea."