Identity Theft Affects the Poor

By Henry Bagdasarian

To illustrate how identity theft affects the poor, read the story of Gago who depends on government assistance for survival because he is suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since his late 20s and now is wheelchair bound with no substantial muscles left in his body to walk, or feed, wash and dress himself.

Just a few years earlier, Gago was a hard working immigrant who had come to the US in the hopes of finding a better life. He was working in a grocery store as a bagman and was well known for his unique customer service and ability to engage customers in conversations while he happily packed customers’ groceries and helped them transport the bags to their cars in the store parking lot. He was proud to make a living for himself and support his old mother who lived with him. He loved his job and was well liked by his coworkers and customers but one day his life shattered when he fell down in the store parking lot while carrying his customer’s grocery bags. This was the beginning of the end of his independence and pride. Soon after, he was diagnosed with MS and gradually became incapable of supporting himself or his mother. In fact, his nearly 70 year old mother had to regain her energy to help his young son with simple daily tasks such as shaving, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, changing cloths, taking a bath (in the wheelchair), and eating.

As a result of this tragedy, Gago could no longer work and was suddenly forced to seek government assistance to pay for rent and buy food since he had no income. After Gago gave away his car and spent whatever savings he had amassed as a grocery bagman, he became a person living below the poverty line as defined by the government and qualified for government assistance of less than $1000 per month and a few hours of in-home assistance. Gago and his mother who collects social security are able to co-exist with their combined income and in-home assistance they receive from the government.

While on government assistance, Gago became an identity theft victim of someone who had made charges on his credit card and opened a bank account under his name. After Gago and his family notified the bank, the fraud charges were cleared but the story did not end there. Fast forward two years, Gago received a letter from the government indicating that he had more than $2000 in his combined bank accounts at some point in the past which disqualifies him for government assistance and that he has to pay back any excess income he collected from the government. Now he has to convince the government that he was a victim of identity theft which resulted in the creation of two bank accounts under his name and a combined checking account deposit of over $2000 or face losing his government assisted income and become a homeless.

This story was described in detail to show that identity theft affects the poor also and does not discriminate anyone. There are many similar cases and unfortunately identity theft affects the poor much more severely than those individuals earning a decent income. Although a fat account provides a much better return on investment for identity thieves, the wealthier victims can more easily absorb and rectify the damages while even a few lost bucks mean a lot more to financially poor persons both physically and mentally.  

Gago who is now in his 40s lives month to month on a very limited income he receives from the government and without this income which he almost lost to identity theft a couple of years ago, he could find himself and his supporting mother in a very difficult and disturbing situation.

Read other stories about how identity theft affects the poor.

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