Filing for a marriage license is normally a joyous occasion. It means the big day is approaching and the preparations are almost done. However, for Anna Vargas of New York City, it was just the beginning of an arduous journey. It all started when she lost her birth certificate over 16 years ago, which gave identity thieves access to her personal information. She found out when she applied for her license that, by using this information, two men had already legally married her – without her knowledge, one from Mexico and one from Peru. The city clerk rejected her application.
Though Vargas was eventually permitted to go through with her nuptials – after registering for her marriage license in another jurisdiction – her identity theft nightmare continued. Three years after her real wedding, one of her “husbands” filed for divorce. Somehow, he obtained her mother in law’s address and actually showed up at her house, papers in hand.
After that event, Vargas decided it was time to clear her name, and she finally had the two “marriages” legally nullified with the state. However, she soon after discovered that she is “married” to another man. This case is still ongoing.
How wonderful to be that popular that so many men want to marry you, especially when they do so without letting you know. Though thieves sometimes steal American identities for immigration purposes, this case is pretty extreme. It also shows failure on the part of the New York judicial system in letting all of these marriages go through.
Regardless, Vargas should have taken care of the two “marriages” as soon as she learned about them, instead of letting them stand for another three years. Who knows what else the thieves have been doing with her information during that time? They may even have some fictional children by now.
This also emphasizes an important point about safeguarding your birth certificate. You should never put yourself in a situation where you are able to lose this document. Leave it in a safe deposit box, or at least in a fireproof safe in your home, unless it is imperative that you take it out, such as if you need it to apply for a passport. You should not need it to apply for a job, a place to live, or for credit. If you’re asked for it in these circumstances, you need to find out why this is necessary before agreeing.
An identity theft protection service could have likely prevented these marriages. When the thieves registered their licenses with the state, Vargas would have been notified. Perhaps, these policies weren’t available when the “blessed events” took place, but one hopes that Vargas has signed up for one of these services at least now.