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Prepared Witness Testimony
The Committee on Energy and Commerce
W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, Chairman

Identity Theft: Assessing the Problem and Efforts to Combat It.
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
December 15, 2003
10:00 AM
Middletown Township Municipal Building, 3 Municipal Way, Langhorne, Pennsylvania


Mrs. Michael Kane


906 Cathe Lane
Newtown, PA, 18940


Identity Theft has been referred to as the "invisible assault", and I should know because unbeknownst to me, a woman was able to steal my good name.

A little over two years ago, I was offered a free credit report. My credit was perfect and I was expecting to receive a report that reflected that. Imagine my surprise when my report history came back 33 pages thick.

I assumed there must be some sort of mistake with the credit agencies. Perhaps my name was mingled with another Michelle Kane; I have heard of that happening. After all, I have always been very careful with the use of my credit cards and Social Security Number. Boy, was I wrong!

Unfortunately, the credit agencies were not mistaken. A woman from Schenectady, New York had been using my Social Security Number for approximately two years and had managed to charge over $70,000 in my name. She stated out small, opening a few credit cards, then gained more confidence obtaining a car loan and eventually a mortgage.

The perpetrator, who is also named Michelle Kane, said she received the Social Security Number from a friend and thought she was able to use it. However, investigators believe she obtained it through her place of employment. She worked for a vision company and had access to insurance company databases. The Schenectady, New York Michelle Kane did get caught and served a year in prison thanks to the fact investigators hired by the mortgage company work so diligently.

Even though this woman went to jail, the task of clearing my credit history still existed. The red tape and the jumping though hoops started from the very beginning. The first step of reporting the crime was not very simple. I first called the Schenectady Police Department and they were unable to do anything unless I filed a police report in person. I then called my local police department they were unable to do much because it was not in their jurisdiction.

It did not get any easier with the three credit agencies (Transunion, Experian and Equifax). They sent the information, but it was up to me to decipher it. The agencies listed the creditors, however many times just as an abbreviation. One of the biggest hassles was getting a phone number to the bank. Sometimes it was listed and sometimes it was not. To get a phone number that was a 1-800 number that corresponded to the correct department in the bank was a rarity. I.e., My husband and I spent countless hours trying to contact Verizon NE. No one in the company knew who this was; did NE stand for North East, New England, Nebraska? Which division of Verizon was this; wireless, landline or Internet?

Aside from the financial burden of huge phone bills trying to track down the banks, and the countless hours wasted trying to sort though the red tape, the biggest problem is proving your identity to the creditors and convincing them you didn't make the charges.

Over two years have passed and I am hopeful that my credit history will soon be cleared. I am hopeful that this does not come back to haunt me. And I am hopeful that there will be improvements for the rest of the victims out there.

My Suggestions for Improvement:

  • Free yearly credit reports
  • Transunion, Experian and Equifax list a local advocates phone number on the credit report. (Consumer Protection Number).
  • Mandatory listing of all creditors' phone numbers that appears on credit report. (1-800).