The April 29 edition of The Elsberry Democrat contained a story about local residents Sarah Hunt and Rob Guinness and some of the experiences they had been forced to go through as the result of identity theft.
Hunt and Guinness discovered their identities had been stolen when they attempted to file their taxes online and found that someone else had already done so.
In the article, Hunt mentioned that she and Guinness suspect a security breach that Anthem suffered earlier this year to be at the root of their problems.
Hunt also mentioned that other Elsberry residents have gone through similar experiences, a statement later confirmed by Elsberry Chief of Police Brian Jeffries.
As it turns out, Elsberry resident and City Alderman Steve Wilch is one of those individuals.
“It all started out when I got a letter from the IRS,” said Wilch. “It stated that they were reviewing my income tax forms. That sounded strange to me since I hadn’t filed my 2014 tax return yet.”
Wilch called the IRS and was informed that someone had apparently stolen his identity.
“They were very helpful,” said Wilch. “Unfortunately, after a lot of paperwork and a lot of time spent on the phone things still aren’t completely resolved.”
Wilch has now filed his 2014 return, albeit on paper rather than online.
“In addition to that, I am in the process of being issued a new four-digit pin number that I’ll have to carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Wilch.
In the meantime, Wilch said he has cancelled all of his credit cards and locked up all of his savings accounts.
“I’ve had to change everything,” said Wilch.
Wilch said he has also received two calls from individuals claiming to be representing the IRS, but who were clearly imposters.
“They wanted me to pay close to $4,000,” said Wilch. “They said if I didn’t pay immediately there would be a warrant for my arrest.”
Wilch said he already knew the IRS didn’t work that way so he reported the calls immediately.
The matter is now being investigated by both the IRS and the FTC [Federal Trade Commission].
Like Hunt and Guinness, Wilch said he believes hacking is at the root of his problems with identity theft.
Wilch is a member of Humana, which is a sister agency to Anthem.
Some time ago he received a letter from Humana warning him that the company had suffered a security breach.
“They’ve offered me two years worth of free legal advice,” said Wilch.
In the April 29 article, Jeffries lists some things that individuals can do to protect themselves from identity theft.
While Wilch agrees that those are good ideas to put into practice, he said he also feels that there really isn’t any way to beat hackers.
“With the technology these people have today I don’t see how anyone is safe,” said Wilch. “I’ve gotten to where I just pay cash for everything.”