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Special section Child identity theft

Gabriel Jimenez's identity was stolen when he was 12. This is Jimenez at 10 years old, seen with his mother, Jeri Marks.

Child identity theft: A victim's story

The IRS at one point threatened to take assets from Jimenez because of back taxes. He was also billed for penalties and interest. The letters claimed Jimenez owed more than $4,000.

He was hit with bills for outpatient services from Rush University Medical Center. The balances owed on the previous taxes created problems securing financial aid for Jimenez's college education at Northwestern University.

"It seemed like he was making $25,000 a year when at that point he wasn't making anything," Marks says.

Three years ago, Jimenez was typing his thesis on a cold December day in 2003 when the electricity went out.

"I assumed that there was a power outage. I couldn't even sleep, it was so cold," he says.

He discovered the utility company had cut off his electricity because of two overdue accounts in his name.

Jimenez received a call from a collection agency later that year about a $590 phone bill that was accrued within a two-day period. He told them it wasn't his account and that he was a victim of identity theft and then requested to have the address on the bill to track down the culprit.

As Jimenez described his situation to the current resident at that address, she showed him the deed to the house to confirm that her family hadn't lived at the address during the time of identity theft and offered him the mail of the previous owner.

"To my surprise she had a box full of mail with my name on it. It was kind of creepy, but my W-2's were in it and bank statements. It was stuff that I was looking for that I couldn't even get," he says.

Jimenez says he's talked with several attorneys who've told him he's doing everything that can be done. He's currently attempting to get a new Social Security number.

In July, he received a letter from his alma mater alerting him that "nine desktop computers had been accessed by unauthorized persons from outside the university" and he was "one of as many as 17,000 whose records have been identified as being stored on the computers in the Office of Admission and Financial Aid."

"It was more like the icing on the cake," says Jimenez. "Instead of getting upset again, I just laughed this time and thought to myself, 'Just when I was thinking things couldn't get any worse.'"

Create a news alert for "identity theft"
-- Posted: Jan. 3, 2007
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