In April of 2003, Ben Castner received one phone call that would change the way he looked at his personal life forever.
"My wife calls me one night at work and says there's this detective on the phone wanting to verify your social security number," he says.
The detective was from the Wausau Police Department. He discovered that Ben had become a target of one of the fastest growing crimes, identity theft.
"They were working on a sting, and my name was on the list," Ben says.
Turns out, Ben’s previous employer hired a temp agency to shred payroll documents. Ben's name was in that pile. The person in charge of destroying the information decided to do something else, he decided to steal Ben's identity.
"It's a cause and effect, if he wasn't there, none of this would have happened," he says.
Ben soon realized that it was happening, and as soon as the shock wore off, the legal process began. He testified in court, cancelled his credit cards, switched banks and even had to place a special alert on his driver's license.
Only one in 700 people are actually caught and arrested for this crime. Ben was one of the lucky ones. The man responsible for stealing his identity now spends his time behind bars, but even so, the story doesn't end here.
For months, Ben and his wife have to take several extra steps when they use their credit cards. He says to avoid most of the hassle, they now buy things with cash. His good name is almost cleared up, however one thought continues to haunt him from time to time.
"The scary thing is there were several involved, so you don't know what's been shared and what's been passed out," Ben explains.
While this story is rather frightening, there are ways you can protect yourself. We'll have some Seven On Your Side Tips to keep you from becoming a victim in Part 2 of the Special Report, Identity Theft, Thursday.
TransUnion: 800-888-4213 (fraud div.- 800-680-7289)
Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (fraud div.- 888-397-3742)
Equifax: 800- 685-1111 (fraud div.- 800-525-6285)
Source: www.idtheftcenter.org (Identity Theft Resource Center Web site) contributed to this report.
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