A few months after I met my husband, he went to buy a new car.  He needed to finance it and confidently signed papers.  The dealer came back, looked at Cliff and said....sorry man....but your credit is in the toilet!  Cliff was stunned.  After doing some research, he found out that he had been embezzled.  I have run into countless others who have told similar tragic stories.  It has taken Cliff ten years to get his credit re-established...and it hasn't been easy.  We have gotten other letters that send chills up the both of our spines with people trying to do it all over again.  You see, once you are "out there" you are always out there.  So, we have a company who keeps a constant watch on our credit.  It isn't costly and is well worth it.  Once you have been bitten, you see the worth of these companies....if they are above board.
     In the last two years, my sister-in-law, oldest niece & her husband, younger niece, and my nephew have had to deal with identity theft in one way or another.  Recently, my nephew found out that someone tried to confiscate his income tax refund.  He is laid off and was looking forward to that check.  He may have to wait up to 11 months now, according to the IRS so that they can do their investigation...and he is not alone.
    My oldest niece and her husband went to refinance their home.  They got the same "toilet" story that my husband did 10 years ago.  After much research and police reports, it turned out to be the son of family friends.  He is in jail.  His family and her family are trying desperately to hang on to their lifelong friendship...it is damaged though.  My niece is trying to find the light at the end of this tunnel....but the tunnel keeps getting longer and longer.  He had been at work on her identity for the last 11 months.  She is devastated both because of the damage to her credit....and also to the damage to her relationship with a man who was always like a brother to her.  They both grew up being only children.  They parents would get together and these two bonded like siblings.  How heart-breaking.
     Recently, I got a call from Allstate asking me about an accident that had occurred on April 10th involving my car and a bumper collision in a parking lot.  That never happened and I panicked.  I got all of the information that I could concerning this "accident" and passed it on to my Identity Theft Protection company to research.  It looks like it may have been an honest accident with Allstate...the guy tried to reassure me...but I am not happy.  I am worried because Allstate is no longer my insurance company and the case was listed using my maiden name.  But, they called here using my married name.  So, ladies....don't just check out your married names....check out your maiden names when things start to happen!  I am trying to stay cautiously optimistic...but there is a red flag on my credit...just in case.
     I am sharing this information with you because it is more common than not.  You would not believe how it can limit your lifestyle.  You have to worry that someone doesn't use your name when turned into the police for crimes that you didn't commit.  Everyone thinks of spending sprees when their identity is stolen....but it goes well beyond that.  That is just the tip of the iceberg.  Guard your identity....and guard it well.
     One of the things that I worry about are people who are not familiar with where this is heading.  Some people don't read the dusty Bible sitting on their coffee tables.  Bible?!  What IS she talking about NOW?!  Well, according to the Bible, when the anti-christ comes to power, he will make every living person on the face of the earth to that a scratching on either the forehead or hand.  "scratching?"  When you look up mark in this passage, it translates to "scratch".  It could be a tattoo.  Nobody knows for sure.  I know that if you look up tattoos and scratch...there is a slang connection.  With everybody being so open to tattoos....not thinking much about it...I worry that they will easily think nothing about taking the mark of the beast.  Here is the thing though:  according to the Bible...if you take the mark of the beast...you will live in hell forever.  It doesn't say that you will go to purgatory.  It doesn't say that you will sleep in your grave forever.  It says that you will spend ETERNITY in hell.  Now, if you study hell, you will find that it is a scorching place of torment.  I would hate to see anyone go there and have to endure that forever.  There is no sleep...no reprieve...nothing.
    So, now, Vicki....what does this have to do with identity theft?  I really believe that the excuse that the government will use to get people to take this mark will be to curb identity theft.  Christians who are familiar with these scriptures are watching closely because we know where this is all leading.  If you are not familiar with this, I would advise you to go to a Baptist church for a good Bible study.  I am not Baptist...and do not advocate one way or the other concerning becoming a Baptist.  However, whenever I meet up with a new Christian...that is where I try to send them for Bible study because I really believe that the Baptists study their Bibles inside out.  I have been to their Bible studies in the past and couldn't believe the difference between what I learned there and at my own church.  They leave no stones unturned. 
     So, do not give out vital information to even family members unless you absolutely must.  Do regular credit checks on yourself.  If you see anything unusual going on....contact all three credit bureaus and put a red flag on your account so that others cannot open anything under your name or social security number.  But, if you are going to need new credit....be aware that it will stop you from opening new credit as well....unless you call and lift the flag.  Consider hiring a company to monitor all of your credit transactions.  Consider getting one of those aluminum cases to keep your credit cards in so that nobody can scan the magnetic strip as they walk by you....yes they can do that.  It happened to a friend of mine while she was traveling in NYC.  Be diligent on a regular basis.  But, most importantly, have empathy for others going through this...it is literally a waken nightmare.....and do not be naive!