I went to the Los Angeles criminal courthouse yesterday where my wife was called as a witness for the prosecution of an identity theft case. For about seven years, she has endured the frustration, time consumption, screwed up credit reports and general hurdles of dealing with a stolen identity.
When she reported it to the police in 2001, it was hard to know what would come of it. Most identity theft is never solved. At best the thief leaves the identity behind and the victim’s headaches slowly dissipate as the bad data gets pushed back to the bottom of the credit file.
No matter how many times my wife called the credit bureaus, the thief’s unpaid bills left black marks all over the credit report. The fraud flags that she wrote countless letters to get would somehow drop off the file and she’d be back at square one. As recently as this summer we had to get the Gas Company to clear a $60 debt from the thief before we could get a loan.
Anyway, back to yesterday’s visit to the court. The cops arrested a woman for having furniture delivered to her that was paid for with a credit card in my wife’s name and was validated with a California driver’s license also in my wife’s name, but with this woman’s picture. My wife was called to the preliminary hearing to testify as to whether or not she had given this woman the authority to use a credit card or license that was in her name.
While I was hoping to hear the prosecutor question her about the hours of frustration listening to the hold muzak of credit bureaus, phone companies, credit card companies, etc, all he wanted was to know if my wife had ever seen this woman before.
Apparently they are only prosecuting this one transaction with the furniture. Which, of course, is better than if they filed the police report away three Mayors ago and did nothing, but there’s just so much more there. I suspect, however, that the prosectution of this sole incident will have to be the only taste of justice that will come from this identity theft nightmare.
The Judge, by the way, found in favor of the People and moved the case to trial.
If you have a story about prosecution of identity theft, or lack of prosecution, please add it as a comment.