Dealing With Identity Cloning

Identity cloning is mostly used to help someone hideā€¦but this form of identity theft can be very dangerous to you.

For those on the run, or for people who just want to be anonymous in a crowd, identity cloning may seem like a good idea. In a case like this, someone steals your identity for concealment, or to shield them from some reality they just don't want to face.

Maybe they're on the run from police or creditors. Maybe they're in the country illegally. Maybe they're paranoid, or just really, really private. It doesn't matter. ID cloning is full-blown criminal identity theft, and it can hurt you badly

On the Lam

While some identity clones hide under the identity of a deceased person or a young child, they'll often grab any ID they can to get by under the radar. Often, all it takes is a Social Security Number to build a new life around their old one...and unless something untoward happens, you might never even know.

The most dangerous cases occur when the clone is a convicted criminal or a psychotic, which is true more often than you might think. Oddly enough, identity clones often masquerade as police or firefighters, in order to lend themselves an air of authority that allows them to operate more freely.

The upshot is that if someone clones your identity, they can become you. They can not only get married, pay bills, and live and work as you, the less scrupulous and savviest among them can usurp your financial records, steal your money, and receive medical care as you...muddying the waters even further.

What You Should Do

Keep a close eye on your credit record. Multiple addresses or mysterious charges should immediately raise red flags. If you're receiving any Social Security benefits, look for multiple addresses on your statements.

If any of these things pop up, immediately take action. Don't expect the fix to be easy or simple, though. You should immediately make a report to the police, of course, but it's more likely that you'll need to hire a private investigator or lawyer to see any kind of serious action against the thief.

The Upshot

As identity thefts go, ID cloning seems fairly benign at first glance--but that's only assuming that your doppelganger intends to quietly hide from the world. You can't count on that. They may do something that hurts you, sometimes just in the normal course of pretending to be you.

As always with identity theft, prevention is your best route. Keep your personal information close to your vest, be very careful on the Internet, and be constantly aware of all your financial transactions. Do all that, and you'll probably never have to worry about identity cloning.

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