Jacob And Esau: First Recorded Identity Theft

Jacob And Esau:  First Recorded Identity Theft

Jacob And Esau:  First Recorded Identity TheftIdentity theft is a terrible problem that many people are facing in Alabama as well as other places in this country.  Although many people think this is a new problem, identity theft has always been with us.

Usually when I give a presentation to lawyers or to community groups or business groups, I will ask the audience when the first reported case of identity theft occurred.  Usually, I am told that identity theft started may be as much as 10 years ago.

When I ask who is the person most likely to commit identity theft against us, I get answers such as:

  • Somebody who digs through our garbage and finds private financial information;
  • The waiter or waitress at the restaurant who has access to our credit card; and
  • Someone in another country  who hacks into our computer.

Actually, the most common person to commit identity theft against somebody else is a family or friend.  Or, “ex” family or friend.  Think about this way:

  • Who knows all of your personal information?
  • Who knows your mother’s maiden name?
  • Or, who knows the various addresses where you have previously lived?
  • It is somebody that knows you very well. An ex-spouse. an adult child. Even a roommate.

These people know the correct information to build a set up an account online.

Remember the Bible story of Jacob and Esau — the first recorded Identity Theft

This is nothing new. We can go back to the very beginning of time and read in the book of Genesis about Jacob and Esau. You will recall the story that Jacob and Esau were twins but they were very different looking.

Their mother favored Jacob and the father, Isaac, loved Esau more. Isaac’s eyes were bad so when his son Esau went out to hunt for food, Jacob put on clothes and other things to make it appear that he was Esau.  He took food into his father and stole the identity of his brother Esau.  

Genesis Chapter 27 tells us:

18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”

20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.”

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.”

22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”

23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him.

24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.”

25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.”

27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him….

So considering that we cannot even get out of the book of Genesis before running into identity theft, it should not shock us that it is occurring today and quite often it occurs among family members.

So, if a family member commits identity theft against you, is there anything that you can do about it?


Unless you gave permission before the identity theft occurred, or you agreed to the identity theft after you found out about it, then regardless of who stole your identity, legally it is not your responsibility.  Now, you certainly cannot know about the identity theft and allow the person to use the credit card to benefit you, but if as soon as you find out about the identity theft you tell the credit card company that this is not your debt, then you have no legal responsibility for it.

Here’s what this means:

So what do you do if you are a victim of identity theft and it is a family or friend? 

You should do the following things immediately:

  • Fill out an identity theft affidavit;
  • File a police report;
  • Send a dispute letter, in writing, to the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion);
  • Send a copy of the letter to the company that has the account fraudulently opened in your name (Capital One, Bank of America, etc); and
  • If it does not get fixed, sue whoever has violated the law in refusing to delete the bogus account.

How can I sue the credit reporting agencies or the creditor or a debt collector?

Here’s the deal.

Your credit report must be accurate.  If it is not, then the credit reporting agencies must fix it.  The companies that “furnish” information to the credit reporting agencies must fix your report.

You give them the opportunity by sending the proper type of dispute letter, with the ID theft affidavit and the police report.  If they fix it, wonderful.  If not, then they have most likely violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Both the credit reporting agency and the creditor.

Now if the account has gone over to a debt collector, then the law (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) requires that the debt collector only make honest and truthful statements.

If the debt collector says you owe the debt, and you don’t, then that is not an accurate statement.

If the debt collector credit reports, that is false.

Or, if the debt collector sues or threatens to sue, that is a violation of the law.

These laws give you the right to collect money damages and can require the company you sue to pay for your lawyer fees so you should not be out any money while you fix your credit report.

I think I’m a victim of ID Theft in Alabama, what should be my next action I take?

I would take these steps, in this order:

  1. Pull all three of your credit reports
  2. Make sure the false information is on your reports
  3. Gather up any collection type letters or voicemails you have
  4. Get a police report that specifically lists every account that is bogus
  5. Call us at 205-879-2447 to schedule an appointment
  6. Bring everything you have to the appointment
  7. Fill out the ID theft affdiavit
  8. We’ll help you send the right dispute letters
  9. If things are not fixed, we will sue whoever broke the law
  10. One of our requirements, when we sue, is that your credit report must be fixed

People struggle with ID Theft for years.

There is no reason to do this.

Instead you can fix it quickly if you follow the right steps.

Contact Us.

If we can help you, call us at 205-879-2447 and tell the receptionist you are the victim of ID Theft and she will get you to the right person in our firm.  Or you can contact us online and explain your situation here.

We’ll be glad to help you.

John Watts

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  1. […] theft is not a new occurrence. From biblical times people impersonate other people. The magnitude of identity theft nowadays, however, is astounding. Javelin Strategy & Research […]

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