Criminal: To catch an identity thief

Axton Betz-Hamilton is a specialist in identity theft. The problem touches us closely because her own identity was stolen when she was only a child. In this week Criminal Podcast, host Phoebe Judge tells the story of Betz-Hamilton’s crusade against identity theft and the discovery of her own assailant. Betz-Hamilton grew up an only child on a farm in Indiana. One day the mail started disappearing from the mailbox. This continued even after the family got a post office box.

Betz-Hamilton never cared much about it, until she started college and tried to install electricity in her new apartment. The electric company demanded extra charges because of his terrible credit. This came as a surprise, since Betz-Hamilton said she only ever borrowed her student loans.

His credit report came from the credit bureau in a mysteriously thick envelope. At the top of the 10-page report, Betz-Hamilton found his credit score to be 380.

“There was a bell curve below where it said ‘your credit score is 380,'” she recalled. “And that bell curve showed that my credit score was in the second percentile of all the country’s credit ratings.”

Betz-Hamilton went to the police, but they didn’t do much. So she took the issue as her life’s work. In the midst of his own investigations, child identity theft became the subject of his master’s degree as well as his doctorate.

“When you have poor credit and interact with the financial industry in any capacity, whether it’s buying a car, getting a loan for a house, etc., you’re considered a kind of deadbeat” , she said. .

After her mother died, Betz-Hamilton’s father confronted her about a credit card bill. After insisting the card was taken away by the identity thief, her father said he found the statement in her mother’s files, along with Betz-Hamilton’s birth certificate.

That’s when everything clicked. Betz-Hamilton’s mother had been an accountant, knew how to handle and hide money. And while Betz-Hamilton’s mother had bad credit, her identity had never been stolen. After some research, it became clear that his mother also stole the identity of his father and grandfather. And she had managed to rack up half a million dollars in debt.

Even on her deathbed in hospice, Betz-Hamilton’s mother never breathed a word of her betrayal, she said.

“Because of this experience, dad, I was definitely grieving those first few weeks until we found out all about this. The grieving process stopped and never started again, and it’s been over three years “, Betz-Hamilton said. “The best way I can explain it is, how can you cry for someone you obviously don’t know?”

You can hear a lot more about Betz-Hamilton’s discovery of her identity thief and the fallout from her investigation into her mother’s double life this week. Criminal Podcast.

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