It started out small but the Gower, Mo. woman did not think that it would ravage her credit report with $35,000 worth of debt. For someone who does not hold a credit card and has never applied for a home loan, that amount is something that should raise a lot of questions.
Angela Horn has been dealing with identity theft since 2000. It started when a telephone company sent her a collection notice tying her address in St. Joseph. She said she did not subscribe to the company and did not even know that the street existed. She filed a complaint with the credit bureaus and did as instructed to fight the fraud. She thought she never had to deal with ID theft again until she misplaced her driver’s license a year later and was used by another person in Oklahoma. She failed to get another one since her license was suspended in a state she has never been. Many creditors are also repeatedly making collection calls to her for loans she did not make.
Ms. Horn is now trying to prove that she did sign up for contracts in Oklahoma and Texas. She carries two large envelopes containing phone numbers of authorities she contacted, her most recent credit report, and apartment lease accounts from the two states.
She called hundreds of people but only a few were willing to help. One of them is Oklahoma police captain David Brewer who, after conducting a series of investigation, identified the woman who used Ms. Horn’s identity in Oklahoma.
The woman was Amy Ballin, 30, of St. Joseph, and was arrested twice under Ms. Horn’s name in 2000 and 2001. The suspect refused to give any comment but it was found out that she is on parole for drug-related charges. Ballin stole Ms. Horn’s identity once more in 2005, and in 2008, the victim found out that Ballin was locked up in Chillicothe, Mo. for delivery of banned substance in Buchanan County. No ID theft case was filed against her.
However, Detective Richard Shelton of the St. Joseph Police Department made it clear that Ms. Horn was a victim of ID theft and they are now pushing a case against Ms. Ballin. The detective added that Ballin was able to steal Ms. Horn’s identity over and over again because she was able to keep the victim’s date of birth, name, and Social Security number.
To avoid falling to the same crime that ruind Ms. Horn’s credit, consumers are advised to guard personal identifying information. Specialists say they must also check their credit report regularly, once or twice a year, and look for any fraudulent item.