DHS woman has identity stolen

Identity theft

Desert Hot Springs, Calif. - When she applied for government assistance a few days ago, a Desert Hot Springs woman learned someone has been using her social security number for the last two years to get work, earning about $10 thousand dollars.

"It shocked me. I didn't know what to think," she said.

Since the government thinks she made the money, she could not get the benefits.

"That is going to affect me when I try to apply for college, and just for any benefits that I need. And I have a five month old baby, so that's going to affect me in any way that I'm trying to get benefits," said the woman, who did not want her name used for this story because she doesn't want the identity thief to get any more information about her.

She filed a police report in Desert Hot Springs, but there is little the department can do to catch an identity thief working in Florida, except for forward the information on to the Tampa police.

"We ask that if the victim feels like their social security number has been compromised for them to go to the social security office and obviously let them know immediately," said Desert Hot Springs Police Department Sergeant Raul Sandoval. "That way it can be red flagged on their social security."

The victim says the social security office told her to call the business that hired the person using her number, which she did.

"They asked for my social security number and they told me someone is working under my social security number," she said. "And they hung up on me."

The victim says she called the Tampa police looking for help, but they referred her back to her local department, which can't exactly send an officer across the country to investigate.

"Identity theft is a white collar crime. It can affect any person at any time," Sergeant Sandoval said. "A lot of times people find out by surprise. Whether you're applying for credit or putting in an application for a job. It is a big problem."

The victim thinks her social security number was hacked on-line when she used it to apply for jobs. 

"There are hackers out there," she said. "My point is, trying to get this out there so that people know because I'm just turning into an adult. I'm 19. What if there's other people turning into adults, 18 and older, and they're getting their information stolen and someone is living their life."

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