A Common Name Could Make ID Theft Easier

Rick Sallinger
5/6/2007 – (CBS4) AURORA, Colo. Identity theft is a crime has become far too common. But are the chances of becoming a victim greater if you have a common name? Dan Garcia recently returned to Aurora Colorado from Iraq where he was working as an electrical contractor. When he applied for a home loan he was in for a shock as he looked at his credit report.

“Do you think you’re the victim of identity theft?” CBS 4 reporter Rick Sallinger asked Garcia. “Yes” was the reply, and Garcia added he thought he was hit because of his common name.

Garcia’s credit report showed he had taken out 44 loans that were not his. “In the west it’s Garcia, Gonzalez, it’s like Smith and Jones on the east coast.” Garcia said.

He pulled out a local phone book and pointed to no less than five pages of Garcias. He’s not alone. Heather Stone wonders if her common name was a factor when unauthorized charges started showing up on her credit card.

“One of them was for $10,000 to a florist in Illinois, so I started panicking.” Stone said.

Opinions of experts are mixed on whether people with common names are more likely to become victims of identity theft. Mason Finks is Director of Fraud Prevention with the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office.

“I do not see identity thieves deliberately targeting people with the same names or common names.” Finks said.

But several books and articles on the subject suggest otherwise. “Identity Theft,” by Silver Lake Editors, states, “The more common the name, the easier the target.”

Samantha Cameron, a former methamphetamine addict and identity thief, now tries to help others. She said if the thief has a common name, victimizing someone with the same name would make it much easier.

“The names would be the same and I wouldn’t have to tell a different story to the police officers,” Cameron said. “They wouldn’t be holding someone else’s identification.”

Dan Garcia said he’s in a bind, “I can’t refinance my place, get a credit card and I can’t even go out and buy another vehicle.”

For victims of identity theft, straightening out their financial life is miserable, regardless of how common their name may be.

Those who believe someone has stolen their identity can contact their local district attorney’s office.

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