Court rules using someone else’s social security number not identity theft

By Jack Minor

The Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling that using someone else’s Social Security number is not identity theft as long as you use your own name with it.

The case involved Felix Montes-Rodriguez who went to Hajek Chevrolet in Longmont to obtain a car loan. Rodriguez admitted that he used a false Social Security number on the loan application and to find employment. The loan application went to various lenders and was finally approved. The legitimate owner of the social security number became aware that his number had been used fraudulently and notified the police who subsequently arrested Montes-Rodriguez.

A jury convicted Montes-Rodriguez of using another person’s social security number and the decision was upheld by the Court of Appeals. In a 4-3 decision the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the conviction saying that the social security number was simply one of several pieces of identifying information on the application and since Montes-Rodriguez used his real name he was not posing as someone else.

In the decision the court ruled, “The defendant did not assume a false or fictitious identity or capacity,” and that he “did not hold himself out to be another person when he used another person’s social security number to obtain an automobile loan.”
During the trial, representatives from Hajek Chevrolet testified a social security number was required as part of their application process in order to conduct a credit check.

The court ruled that was irrelevant as it was a lender requirement, not a legal requirement. They stated that even though Montes-Rodriguez may have “lacked the practical capacity to obtain a loan …because they could not check his credit without a social security number” he did not lack the legal capacity to receive a loan. The court went on to state there is “no evidence a social security number is a legal requirement to obtain a loan.”

Justice Nathan Coats, writing in the dissent, said, “The defendant’s deliberate misrepresentation of the single most unique and important piece of identifying data for credit-transaction purposes” was “precisely the kind of conduct meant to be proscribed as criminal.” Coats went on to say that an individual’s credit history is often only available through their social security number and when a person is using someone else’s social security number that person is assuming the other’s credit history. Coats was joined in his dissension by Justices Nancy Rice and Allison Eid.

Greeley residents expressed outrage over the decision. Margaret, a local mother of four, said, “That is outrageous.” “ The holder of the number could be prevented from getting a home loan because of this. What were they thinking?” Bill, a school crossing guard, concurred saying “That is absolutely crazy.”


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  • Another example of no justice in the judicial system. Where the justices erred is in regards to language revolving around “Legal requirement”. Whether or not a SSN is a legal requirment under the law for credit, it’s still a “legal” identifier under many other circumstances.

    A federal law, 42 USC Chapter 7, Subchapter IV, Part D, Sec. 666(a)(13), enacted in 1996, determines when the numbers should be used. The law requires Social Security numbers to be recorded for “any applicant for a professional license, driver’s license, occupational license, recreational license or marriage license.” It can be used and recorded by creditors, the Department of Motor Vehicles, whenever a cash transaction exceeds $10,000, and in military matters.

    The term for this brand of identity theft is “synthetic identity theft”.

    McAfee Reveals the Top Ten Most Dangerous Places to Leave Your Social Security Number HERE:

    The top 10 most dangerous places to give out your Social Security number are:
    #1 – Universities/Colleges (108)
    #2 – Banking/Financial Institutions (96)
    #3 – Hospitals (71)
    #4 – State Governments (57)
    #5 – Local Governments (44)
    #6 – Federal Governments (33)
    #7 – Medical Businesses (27) (Please note: These are businesses that concentrate on services and products for the medical field such as distributers of diabetes or dialysis supplies, medical billing services, pharmaceutical companies, etc.)
    #8 – Non-Profit Organizations (23)
    #9 – Technology Companies (22)
    #10 (tied) – Medical Insurance and Medical Offices/Clinics (21)

    Your Social Security Number is Your National ID
    For the past 70 years, the Social Security number has become our de facto national ID. The numbers were first issued in the 1930s to track income for Social Security benefits. But functionality creep, which occurs when an item, process, or procedure ends up serving a purpose that it was never intended to perform, soon took effect.

    Here we are, decades later, and the Social Security number has become the key to the kingdom. You’re forced to disclose your Social Security number regularly, and it appears in hundreds or even thousands of files, records, and databases, accessible to an untold number of people.

    The courts have fundamentally upset the balance of law and have effectively opened “Pandoras box”.

    Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com

  • jospino says:

    I know a site that fights identity theft: Stop using your unsecured login and password, use the Digital DNA Technology to access your favorite web sites with http://www.thedigitaldna.com. What do you think ? Revolutionary !!!!

  • Daryl Osborne says:

    Oh my god i couldnt believe it when i read it…
    lucky for me that i am protected but what about the people who are not….i feel sorry for them

    ill share with you all how i am protected

  • Michele says:

    The fact of the matter is SS numbers where never meant to be used in this manner, and if institutions are going to use this as way to determine weather or not they will lean you money and then ruin you name when the person doesn’t pay, they should do their due diligence to verify who they are lending money to.

    You are not holding the correct people responsible… In the case of credit cards, how can you expect to lend 10’s of thousands of dollars to people you have never meant face to face? and then be able to threaten and ruin peoples lives when you can’t even prove who the money was given to BECAUSE
    you didn’t check.

    They lent this man money, asked for a SS number and never checked it… NEVER

    Why is there no responsibility or better yet holding the people who should not be responsible…

    If you or I gave money to a person on the street who gave us a name that wasn’t true and then we couldn’t find them, what would the lesson be? Surely not find someone with the same name and try and get our money back

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