By ARICKA MOULTRY-DAVIS
Brooklyn resident Chris Kudjorg realized his identity was stolen when he checked his credit and found it to be extremely low, 300. He called Capital One, his bank at the time, to find out why. He was told that there were credit cards and loans in his name.
“It affected my finances when I was trying to take out a small loan for an apartment,” said Kudjorg, “Because my credit score was low, each and every single loan place I applied to rejected me. And it all happened at a time where I really could have used that loan money.”
After questioning his immediate family, his sister confessed to using his social security number and opening credit cards.
“My sister basically told me that she did what she felt she had to do in order to take care of her kids,” said Kudjorg, “And that being a single mother of two is so much harder than what she expected.”
It’s easier for relatives and close acquaintances to gain access to your personal information. Access can be gained by saved passwords and personal numbers on a private or shared computer and mail including bills and bank statements. People rarely suspect their family members. In Kudjorg’s case it was proximity and his sister having access to his social security number because he lived with her and trusted her.
Brooklyn resident, S.H., who wanted to stay anonymous to maintain the relationship between her parents and her younger sibling, experienced credit card fraud by not only her older sister but her parents as well.
H.’s parents are from Kabul, Afghanistan, her father from poverty and her mom from the upper class. They met in school and fell in love, in a society where arranged marriages were the norm, they made a case to their respective families to marry for love.
She was applying for apartments when she decided to get a credit report online. That’s when she discovered credit cards from Capital One in her name. The debt was over $10,000 and spanned three credit cards.
She confronted her parents and they confessed right away in tears begging for forgiveness. Despite all the questions she asked, she got no answers and was left with anger and frustration after the confrontation.
Credit card and debit card fraud is a felony classified as Forth Degree Grand Larceny and is punishable to up to four years in state prison, according to the New York Penal Law 155.30(4).
“I would say there was also a socio-political aspect to not reporting my parents, as obnoxious as that sounds.” said H., “I don’t trust or respect our justice system for obvious reasons. Reporting the fraud felt like advancing or aligning with the interests of a credit card company. Ultimately, if charges were pressed I argued in my head, it wouldn’t be my interests that were protected, but Capital One’s.”
Although no reason was ever provided to H. about why her parents did this, Capital One provided her with the credit card statements. The cards were used for Sephora, Macys, neighborhood bars, Walgreens, gas stations and some medical bills.
H. believes that anyone going through a similar situation should be cautious and take the necessary steps.
“I would say first of all over, your life isn’t over,” H said. “I also would say not to put off taking back financial control of your life whether or not you report the identity theft. Having gone through all this, I now pay more attention now to my finances and credit then I did before.”