This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful Your Identity Is Safe… or Is It?

For most of us, Thanksgiving means turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Oh and don’t forget the pumpkin pie!

But for Axton Betz-Hamilton, a professor at Eastern Illinois University, this holiday brings back dreary memories.

What was once a time for family and of gratitude is now a time of mystery and a remembrance of how her identity was stolen.

Did you know that over 30% of the time, family members are the perpetrators in identity theft cases?

I know, you’d hate to think your own mother could be stealing from you, but it happens.

Axton Betz-Hamilton’s thanksgiving story is not a traditional one, but it sure is one you should know about. After hearing her experiences, your family’s thanksgiving dinner may never be the same.

A little over two decades ago, Betz-Hamilton’s parents were defrauded. Someone had stolen their identity and now, more than 20 years later, he or she was back to take hers too!

Or so she thought…

After 19 Thanksgiving dinners, the truth finally surfaced. Pamela Betz, who died of cancer in 1993, was the the fraudster all along.

Mr. Hamilton found answers (that ironically led to more questions) in a little blue plastic file box containing his late wife’s hidden dark secrets. Inside the box, a list of credit card statements under the account name “Axton Betz-Hamilton”, but Axton never opened the account.

Pamela was responsible for her daughter’s fraudulent credit card charges amounting to a $4,000 overdue balance which destroyed her credit and impacted various parts of her financial life:

“I had to pay higher interest rates for my car loan (18.23% APR) and the credit cards (29.9% APR) I legitimately obtained. I’ve had to pay deposits for electric, phone and cable and higher insurance rates.”

But it wasn’t only her financial life that was screwed, but her idea of her mom as well. She had stolen hers, her dad’s and her grandfather’s identity.

To this day, she says it’s “hard to grieve” for her mom and that she’ll sometimes yell at the jar containing her ashes in frustration. And who can blame her?

“I have no idea what she was up to. Maybe she had a second life.”

This story reminds us that we might not know those closest to us as well as we think we do. So this thanksgiving, remember to be grateful for those you DO know and to Spyfly your worries goodbye.


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