If you think about all the places your personal information could possibly be stored, it’s a little overwhelming. For example, any of the places where you went to school have your name, birthdate, Social Security number and other personal data on file, and who knows what happens to those records after you leave. In the worst-case scenario, someone could find them decades later and use the information to steal your identity.
That’s what a former staffer at a high school in Florida is accused of doing. Delvis Demaine Rogers, who used to be an assistant band director at a Broward County high school, has pleaded not guilty to identity theft, among other charges, after investigators say they found records of Broward County high school students — including their names, birthdates and Social Security numbers — at Rogers’ home, the Sun Sentinel reported. Some of the records dated back to the late 1990s and 2000s.
Investigators say they found a lot more than those school records. In October, agents say they found thousands of documents in Rogers’ home bearing names, birthdates and Social Security numbers. Between Jan. 20, 2014 and April 20, 2014, 419 suspicious tax returns were filed from Rogers’ home, which he admitted filing in a taped interview with police, according to the Sun Sentinel. At the time of that interview, Rogers was employed as a band director at an international school in Miami-Dade County, but he previously worked as an assistant band director at a Broward County School District high school.
Rogers’ case is in progress, but what he’s accused of — stealing records to commit identity theft — is an example of how a consumer can do everything right and still become a victim of identity theft and fraud. It’s impossible to control how people or organizations that possess your personal information safeguard it. Because of this, it’s important to closely watch your credit and financial accounts for signs of fraud (you can get your free credit report summary monthly from Credit.com to watch for potential problems). And as soon as you realize someone may have stolen your identity — for example, your tax return is rejected because someone already filed one using your Social Security number — you need to start damage control. You can set fraud alerts on or freeze your credit files, file a police report, report the issue to the Federal Trade Commission, dispute inaccurate information on your credit report, whatever is necessary. The key to minimizing damage is to act quickly.
More on Identity Theft:
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life