I know we have all been bombarded in recent years with warnings of identity theft. Most of us have met someone who has been affected by it, either directly or indirectly thanks to security breaches at Chase Bank and Target Superstores. But how many of us have had our lives completely destroyed because of some selfish inconsiderate nameless faceless troll?
Ten years ago I decided to go back to college. I dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s thinking I was playing it smart and doing things the right way so that I could graduate with as little student loan debt as possible, especially since I had three children who were going to be heading off to college shortly after I graduated. I even worked scholarship positions on campus to put money towards my tuition. I was on the right path…or so I thought.
My then boyfriend, whom I had been with for three years at the time I returned to school, was employed as a Machinist at ATA. In less than two years of returning to school ATA was bought by Southwest Airlines and his once stable career became less than stable. By the winter of my sophomore we knew he would be out of a job by spring. So he started looking for a new position and he found one…in Dallas, Texas at Love Air Field.
So he left in February to start his new career and the kids and I stayed behind to sell the house and finish out the school year. By June, we joined him in Dallas. Unfortunately, things did not go as smoothly as we’d planned. We’d found a realtor, found a house and began the paperwork at Wachovia Bank. Little did we know that someone whom we trusted…whom most people trust…THE BANK PERSONEAL took all of our personal information…name, social security numbers, income information, etc., and gave it to her boyfriend who was a real estate broker without our permission because she’d made some mistake while filing our paperwork. Of course this woman is long gone and the bank will provide us with no information on her.
Long story short, I did a year at the University of Texas, Dallas before we all decided to return to Indianapolis and I got to finish my degree at IUPUI. Upon my graduation we learned that several student loans (and by several I mean 19!!!) were taken out in my name with my, now husband’s name, as the co-signer and we did not know this because all were deferred while I was a full time student. Of course, these all occurred in Texas back in 06 – 07 and monies sent somewhere along the border. Amazingly, at that time all student loans were sent directly to the person and were not dispersed through the schools. Apparently, they also did not require signature verification, just an e-signature. And once your signature is on file with the national school registry, which mine was, a few tweaks here and there and what do you know…I’m now responsible for 697K in student loan debt!!!
Yes, you read that correctly…697K in student loan debt!!!
And do the student loan creditors (including Sallie Mae, Loan Science (ACS), National Collegiate Trust, etc.) give a shit that your identity was stolen? HELL NO!!! They acknowledge that we didn’t take out the money, but until or unless we can provide them with the name of the person or persons who stole it, they won’t do anything about it. Yes, we’ve filed police reports here and in Dallas, but honestly, it’s done us no good whatsoever.
So after fighting this invisible thief for the last five years, I have learned one very important thing…NO ONE CARES if your identity was stolen. No one cares about all the countless late nights I spent up studying, or the sacrifices I, my children, and my husband endured so that I could graduate with honors with a BS in psychology with a dual concentration in the psychobiology of addictions and clinical rehabilitation. All the hours I worked on campus doing psychobiosocial research and microbiology research were for nothing.
It doesn’t matter because now, here I am, five years post-graduation, and I can’t get a job to save my life because every place that has any career potential runs a credit background on potential new employees and my name comes up with default student loans that aren’t even mine. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it is to work so hard for something and have your entire future stolen from you before it can even begin. I am so much worse off now than before I ever went to college and earning a third as much!!
This has ruined not only my life, but my husband’s as well. To say it has ruined our credit is a mild understatement. We couldn’t buy a stick of gum on credit these days. The first attorney we hired in Brownsburg did nothing more than take our money and did none of the things he promised he’d do to help us clear up this matter. So now we are on our second legal firm that is charging us literally an arm and a leg in an attempt to fix this matter. Cause what else can we do? We are literally screwed. I am making $7.50 an hour…less than I made when I was in high school twenty some odd years ago and can’t even make enough to cover our attorney fees. My husband is just trying to hold onto the house that we worked so hard to turn into a home. Everything we worked so hard to accomplish is slowly slipping away because some selfish nameless faceless credent who thought they’d found an easy way to get some cash. Well, they succeed admirably because they have ruined us in every way possible.
So for anyone who thinks identity theft doesn’t happen or happen to the degree that it can destroy your entire life. Think again. It does happen…and it happened to us. Don’t be so sure it couldn’t happen to you too!