Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Stealing your identity...

Posted 4/10/18 (Tue)

Have you ever had your identity stolen or has anyone attempted to claim they were you?

This is happening more all the time and just because we live in a rural state doesn’t mean we’re immune to this.

Last year in early January, my wife and I received a letter from the IRS telling us that somebody filed our tax returns on our behalf and they were claiming an $11,000 refund.

We’ve never had a refund close to that amount, which was a red flag for the IRS. They checked into it and knew it wasn’t us.

So they contacted us to let us know that whoever it was, they were under investigation and the IRS issued pin numbers to us so that when we do file, it would be unique information that nobody else could possibly get.

About two months later, a check from U.S. Treasury is in our box for $11,000. When I opened it, I said, “PARTY,” but she’s the sensible one and said we have to send it back.

We did and we thought that was the end of it. Months went by and we still hadn’t received our real refund which was about $1,600.

She called the IRS one day and was told they were still investigating the crime and couldn’t issue us a check until it was completed.

They finally wrapped it about three months ago.

• My brother was in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif. One day the military police arrested him and took him into custody for burglarizing homes in Jacksonville, N.C., near Camp Lejune.

He was stunned because he worked hard in the Marines, did his best to climb the ladder and get merits where he could.

The police, of course, didn’t believe him when he said he was innocent and this went on for about two weeks. He told them he had never been in North Carolina and finally his commander at Camp Pendleton verified his wherabouts while these burglaries were taking place.

They later caught the individual who stole my brother’s identity. He too was in the Marines and one time, just one time, while standing behind my brother to get a weapon issued, memorized my brother’s social security number and used it to his advantage.

I know people here in North Dakota and I’m sure you do too, who have had their identity stolen. Once that happens, it really creates a bizarre set of circumstances that you are stuck trying to figure out how to solve.

• Not long out of high school and before I went to college, I was working in a grain elevator in Wimbledon and living in Jamestown.

One day I received a bill from the Jamestown Hospital for about $200. I had never been in that hospital so I chalked it up as some kind of mistake.

I disregarded the bill. Another one showed up and another and after not responding to the third bill, they said they were going to take it to a collection agency if I didn’t pay the bill.

I called Jamestown Hospital and told them I had never been in that hospital in my life. The person said, Oh yes, she had me listed as having some sort of respiratory issue that hospitalized me.

What a minute, that’s impossible. Back then, I had never been sick in my life so it had to be some kind of misunderstanding.

It was obvious the hospital wasn’t going to help, so I started digging into this myself. I found out at the time there were three Marvin Bakers in Jamestown and the one who was actually hospitalized, was a shyster and owed money to just about everybody in town.

At that point, I went to the Jamestown Police Department and it got straightened out.

I don’t know how this guy discovered who I was, but he did and he used my information when he got checked into the hospital.

So think about that for a moment. You are sick enough to get admitted to a hospital, yet you are devious enough to steal somebody’s identity and use it at that time.

After that situation, I was free and clear and any smudges on my financial record, which didn’t amount to much at that time, were cleared with the Jamestown Police Department vouching for me.

• Just last year, my wife and I spent a week on the beach at Panama City, Florida. When we checked into our resort, we were told the latest scam was for people to have a tiny electronic device that reads your credit card in your pocket while you pass on a sidewalk, on a beach or in the mall.

We immediately took precautions and purchased wallets that have shields to prevent that kind of theft.

Gee! What you have to do to protect yourself.