Something as simple as renting an apartment can create financial nightmare. Some young students looking for a place to live became victims of identity theft.
The victims in this case had filled out a rental application with personal information, and that information was then stolen..
"Somebody who worked for the apartment management complex was able to obtain copies of their drivers licenses and their applications and they were given to the defendant who then used those identities to obtain student loans fraudulently," said Blanca Alvarez, U.S. Postal Inspector.
The identity thief then went online, and with those dates of birth and social security numbers applied for student loans.
Postal inspectors got involved because the checks were being sent to vacant addresses.
"The checks would be picked up by the defendant. The defendant was stealing the mail," Alvarez said.
The scammer also hired people who, with fake IDs, would go into banks and cash the student loan checks.
"The total potential loss in this case was over half a million dollars," Alvarez said. "The victims in this case had a difficult time fixing their credit. It's a lengthy process."
"If their identities are stolen, most parents wouldn't catch that crime for 10, perhaps 15 years down the road," said Marc Anton, Assistant U.S. Attorney. "So, an identity thief really gets a good head start on that crime and can use those names and identities year after year after year."
To protect yourself, check your credit report at least once a year to make sure no one has stolen your identity and taken out loans or credit cards in your name.