There are about 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, according to The New York Times, and many of these individuals and households are supported by wages paid under the table. Factories, farms and other labor-intensive industries have traditionally benefited from hiring undocumented workers who will accept very low wages.
New immigration reform is making this more difficult. Companies are facing stricter penalties for employing undocumented workers, and illegal immigrants are finding fewer opportunities for work. As a result, some are turning to more desperate measures and committing a type of identify theft known as employment fraud. This fraud is a risk that could affect any U.S. Citizen.
How Employment Fraud Works
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to assume your identity for their own gain. This can occur in many forms and for many purposes, such as taking advantage of a strong credit score, or gaining access to bank accounts and lines of credit. Undocumented workers sometimes steal a U.S. citizen’s identity to gain legal entry into the workforce.
Of course, this isn’t technically legal, since the identity has been stolen, but employment fraud is used by illegals to pose as legal U.S. workers. With a stolen identity, workers can provide companies with valid Social Security numbers and Federal Tax IDs. Companies are none the wiser, and it allows these undocumented workers to get jobs that are regulated by the U.S. government, according to LifeLock.
Since the job market for undocumented workers is becoming more difficult, employment fraud can be an easier, and possibly more lucrative, means to an end for these workers. Unfortunately, it can create serious problems for the victims of fraud. But there are steps any legal worker can do to respond to suspected fraud and prevent its reoccurrence.
Responding to Identity Theft
If you suspect you are a victim of employment fraud, it’s important to notify the federal government right away. Contact the Social Security Administration to verify the income earnings associated with your identity. If there are any discrepancies, report these to the SSA immediately. You will also need to file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the Internal Revenue Service. Both of these organizations can help you gather information about the employment fraud, and the IRS can help you address tax issues that may arise following your identity theft, according to the Identity Theft Network.
Finally, contact local law enforcement and file an Identity Theft Report. This report will make it easier for you to clean up your credit situation following the employment fraud.
Preventing Future Incidents
The average U.S. Citizen can do several things to provide himself with protection from identity theft and employment fraud. Monitoring your credit score is one of the best methods of guarding against identity theft as new accounts and other unusual activity can be easily seen through a credit report. You’ll also want to be a careful consumer when shopping online, providing credit card information only to websites you know you can trust.
Other steps to prevent employment theft include shredding documents at home, locking up government-issued identification, choosing strong passwords and investing in a locked mailbox. If you can do these things, you will minimize your risk of being victimized.