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The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity

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An identity theft expert tells the story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family. Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early '90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age o An identity theft expert tells the story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family. Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early '90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age of the Internet, when identity theft became more commonplace, so authorities and banks were clueless and reluctant to help Axton's parents. Axton's family changed all of their personal information and moved to different addresses, but the identity thief followed them wherever they went. Convinced that the thief had to be someone they knew, Axton and her parents completely cut off the outside world, isolating themselves from friends and family. Axton learned not to let anyone into the house without explicit permission, and once went as far as chasing a plumber off their property with a knife. As a result, Axton spent her formative years crippled by anxiety, quarantined behind the closed curtains in her childhood home. She began starving herself at a young age in an effort to blend in--her appearance could be nothing short of perfect or she would be scolded by her mother, who had become paranoid and consumed by how others perceived the family. Years later, her parents' marriage still shaken from the theft, Axton discovered that she, too, had fallen prey to the identity thief, but by the time she realized, she was already thousands of dollars in debt and her credit was ruined.


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An identity theft expert tells the story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family. Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early '90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age o An identity theft expert tells the story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family. Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early '90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age of the Internet, when identity theft became more commonplace, so authorities and banks were clueless and reluctant to help Axton's parents. Axton's family changed all of their personal information and moved to different addresses, but the identity thief followed them wherever they went. Convinced that the thief had to be someone they knew, Axton and her parents completely cut off the outside world, isolating themselves from friends and family. Axton learned not to let anyone into the house without explicit permission, and once went as far as chasing a plumber off their property with a knife. As a result, Axton spent her formative years crippled by anxiety, quarantined behind the closed curtains in her childhood home. She began starving herself at a young age in an effort to blend in--her appearance could be nothing short of perfect or she would be scolded by her mother, who had become paranoid and consumed by how others perceived the family. Years later, her parents' marriage still shaken from the theft, Axton discovered that she, too, had fallen prey to the identity thief, but by the time she realized, she was already thousands of dollars in debt and her credit was ruined.

30 review for The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity

  1. 4 out of 5

    Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️

    My first and only five star of 2022 thus far…(04/01/2022) I'm not sure if it was just good timing or what, but I inhaled this book. I really enjoy memoirs in general and this one had a mystery/crime element that felt very reminiscent of a Dateline episode (and I love that show). Also, the writing here was top notch. Seriously, it just doesn't get any better than this in my opinion. Not only was it written excellently from a technical writing perspective, it was also written brilliantly from a set My first and only five star of 2022 thus far…(04/01/2022) I'm not sure if it was just good timing or what, but I inhaled this book. I really enjoy memoirs in general and this one had a mystery/crime element that felt very reminiscent of a Dateline episode (and I love that show). Also, the writing here was top notch. Seriously, it just doesn't get any better than this in my opinion. Not only was it written excellently from a technical writing perspective, it was also written brilliantly from a setup and execution perspective. I don't want to get too much into the details as I think this book is best tackled blind. In fact, if this book interests you and you take nothing else away from this review, make it this: Do NOT google this case or read too many reviews about it. It will make it better for you. You might still figure it out before the end (as I did), but not knowing for sure will make the experience better.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    This is a truly twisted tale of loss and betrayal in small town, Portland, Indiana. I don't know if I could recommend it to others, because it's so frustrating. This family reacts to trauma by becoming paranoid and self-isolating. Even though identity theft was a new type of crime when the story started, I hate how apathetic everyone seems to be, the family, relatives, the police and friends. Everyone, except for the daughter, who couldn't do anything, except live in fear of whoever was doing th This is a truly twisted tale of loss and betrayal in small town, Portland, Indiana. I don't know if I could recommend it to others, because it's so frustrating. This family reacts to trauma by becoming paranoid and self-isolating. Even though identity theft was a new type of crime when the story started, I hate how apathetic everyone seems to be, the family, relatives, the police and friends. Everyone, except for the daughter, who couldn't do anything, except live in fear of whoever was doing this to their family. She does become an expert on identity theft in later life, so some good came out of it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    A true crime memoir? Sign me up! Axton’s parents’ identities were stolen when she was a young child, and the family was in ruins, not just financially. The rest of her childhood was riddled with anxiety and a changed way of life. Eventually, Axton goes to college and finds out her identity was also stolen, when she was just 11 years old, and a loved one did the stealing. This book was featured on NPR. It is THAT good, and I found Axton’s story gripping and her voice powerful. I received a complim A true crime memoir? Sign me up! Axton’s parents’ identities were stolen when she was a young child, and the family was in ruins, not just financially. The rest of her childhood was riddled with anxiety and a changed way of life. Eventually, Axton goes to college and finds out her identity was also stolen, when she was just 11 years old, and a loved one did the stealing. This book was featured on NPR. It is THAT good, and I found Axton’s story gripping and her voice powerful. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This is a book which put me into an entire day of self-questioning. Is it 4 star in message? Is it 4 star in language skills? Yes, on both. Was it a fun book to read in any sense of "fun" by definition. Absolutely NOT! It's rather akin to being tasked with observation for a medical condition. Like sitting in one spot to track and describe an ill animal that cannot stop snapping or chasing its tail in endless circles. Or like watching a corner or traffic crisscross by 3 or 4 intersections maze wa This is a book which put me into an entire day of self-questioning. Is it 4 star in message? Is it 4 star in language skills? Yes, on both. Was it a fun book to read in any sense of "fun" by definition. Absolutely NOT! It's rather akin to being tasked with observation for a medical condition. Like sitting in one spot to track and describe an ill animal that cannot stop snapping or chasing its tail in endless circles. Or like watching a corner or traffic crisscross by 3 or 4 intersections maze way where you know a traditional hourly accident occurs. Sitting there to watch the aftermath of the next collusion? Something like that. And most times that would rather intrigue. With this particular 3 sided family and dance of intersect? NOT so much. Anyone who reads my reviews of record for years here knows how I feel about "wire hanger" parent stories. I despise them. Well then why am I not despising this one? Axton clearly expresses her disdain and disaffection just as much. More at times. And her Father? Sorry, I can't deal with this so I think I'll go raise some more donkeys and stay out to do the hay baling? A pure example of total obscuring and escaping to self-blind. What a dance this family did! And don't kid yourself- we ALL suffer financial reversal from this. Not as much as Axton. Never that much. Any more will give you spoilers. I almost DNF about 1/2 way through. Especially when Axton was underminded in her pride of appearance and denigrated in commenting by her parents. Hearing those "getaway" tales for schools etc. got too, too negative for me. But I saw very early in this book that there was a dissociation occurring that was not being noted. Most people who have little psychology background wouldn't be musing DSM 5 criteria. So that's the only thing that kept me going. Because I sure was. And was I correct? Not entirely, but at least I recognized about 1/2 of the iceberg beyond the tip. Not entirely correct in its depth. But I knew that a grave mental illness existed. And gave it the appropriate nomenclature. Yet, I certainly didn't get the duality achieved. The last 3 chapters of the book were 4 plus stars. That she made a career out of this! Kudos to Axton Betz-Hamilton. Talk about making lemonade when all you own is lemons. When I was done, I was very glad I read the book. It's given me tons to ponder in afterward. Like those Moms who appear on "Say Yes to the Dress" and then consistently dis their own daughter and especially her joy and taste. Beware- this is NOT a fun read. Knowing every single place (Purdue especially) that Axton lived also made me view the screenings she did within her own "eyes". She is far, far more affected long term than even SHE knows.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    I hate to rate a memoir. But this one was lacking for me in some way. Too much information in some places, far too little in others. I guess maybe my issue is that the focus is about Identity Theft, when in fact it should be about Mental Illness.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Let me warn you before you open this book: DON'T GET SPOILED. Multiple Goodreads reviews and even a coworker who listened to Betz-Hamilton's episode of the podcast Criminal totally ruined the big reveal for me. Try to stay away from anything that smacks of a spoiler and go in with a clear mind. Betz-Hamilton's story is truly crazy. She grew up in Portland, Indiana, a small farming town, to a relatively poor family (side note: she constantly refers to Portland with no state appellation like it's Let me warn you before you open this book: DON'T GET SPOILED. Multiple Goodreads reviews and even a coworker who listened to Betz-Hamilton's episode of the podcast Criminal totally ruined the big reveal for me. Try to stay away from anything that smacks of a spoiler and go in with a clear mind. Betz-Hamilton's story is truly crazy. She grew up in Portland, Indiana, a small farming town, to a relatively poor family (side note: she constantly refers to Portland with no state appellation like it's a city people have heard of - I definitely thought she was referring to either Maine or Oregon for a good chunk of the book). Her dad was not a farm boy, but quickly took to the farming lifestyle after inheriting his wife's dad's property. Her mom had a variety of middle-class jobs. But soon enough, the bills started pouring in, the water was shut off, strange things started to happen. Her dad was baffled at this: where was their money going? Who was spending it and on what? Her mom quickly realized what was going on: their identities were stolen. It was fraud. They had no idea who the culprit was, but they were financially underwater and fast. Axton's parents began to drill a sense of paranoia into her: Don't open the door for anyone. You see anyone on our property, you pick up the nearest weapon and call dad. This obviously causes a lot of trauma for young Axton. As she gets older, she gets lost in academia, letting that be her release - she actually goes into the field of identity theft research, contributing to the relatively sparse body of work and quickly getting invited to speak at prestigious conferences and universities. But one day, after a series of heartwrenching family events, she discovers who the identity thief was all along. It's not a pretty revelation. I enjoyed listening to this book, although I have to say that I came into the story already knowing what happens. The reveal wasn't shocking to me, but the whole situation still baffles me. Going into spoiler mode in 3..2...1.... (view spoiler)[How could her mom be spending all of this money? What was she even spending it on!? How was life enjoyable for her, living in constant debt and seeing her daughter and husband miserable on top of it all? How was this even slightly worth any joy she could have gotten from material purchases? Am I the only one who thought the ending suggesting she had MPD/DID was totally bunk???? (hide spoiler)] Anyways, this is definitely an interesting story to pick up, particularly if you enjoy the new resurgence in true crime/fraud stories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dara

    This blew my mind! An absolutely bizarre story that proves once again that real life can be more outlandish than fiction. This story of identity theft is so much crazier than I expected. I actually can’t believe the author was able to get to a point where she could write about it. To say it enveloped her entire life is an understatement. It made her who she is but also upended everything she knew. A fast read, page turner, real life thriller- I am not sure how to classify it. Definitely a very p This blew my mind! An absolutely bizarre story that proves once again that real life can be more outlandish than fiction. This story of identity theft is so much crazier than I expected. I actually can’t believe the author was able to get to a point where she could write about it. To say it enveloped her entire life is an understatement. It made her who she is but also upended everything she knew. A fast read, page turner, real life thriller- I am not sure how to classify it. Definitely a very personal account and I applaud her for sharing. I am still shocked and speechless and I only read about it- she lived it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    If you go in thinking this is a mystery, you need to reframe mystery not as a whodunnit and more of a whydunnit. Axton's life was flipped over and over again due to identity theft that plagued her small family from the time she was born. Even when she managed to get away from her tiny Indiana town and to college, the identity theft followed her. It wasn't until her mother's death that the truth of who her mother was -- and what she did and did not do -- came to light. This was engrossing and sad If you go in thinking this is a mystery, you need to reframe mystery not as a whodunnit and more of a whydunnit. Axton's life was flipped over and over again due to identity theft that plagued her small family from the time she was born. Even when she managed to get away from her tiny Indiana town and to college, the identity theft followed her. It wasn't until her mother's death that the truth of who her mother was -- and what she did and did not do -- came to light. This was engrossing and saddening, both for the author who experienced it, as well as for her mother who was extremely mentally ill. That doesn't come up in those words, but readers will know and understand. The fact of the matter is mom died before everything came to light, and since she can't explain herself, trying to understand the whys or hows isn't possible. What's left are the pieces which lead to a whole other side of her life she'd never been truthful about. I couldn't put this one down, as it falls squarely in the bloodless crime genre I love. It's a memoir, too, and the marriage works well here. It would make for a great read alike to EDUCATED, for the family story, as well as to DUPED for the ways in which people you think you know can lead entirely different lives in ways that seem surprisingly seamless (even when they're not).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *3-3.5 stars. Mother-daughters book club read for January, 2021. In her memoir, Axton Betz-Hamilton describes her life growing up on a farm in rural Indiana, a scenario that should have been idyllic except that their everyday life was torn apart by identity theft. Who was behind this? An estranged relative? A jealous friend? A larcenous coworker? As Axton goes off to college, she decides to major in consumer sciences and becomes an expert in identity theft, specializing in crimes perpetrated aga *3-3.5 stars. Mother-daughters book club read for January, 2021. In her memoir, Axton Betz-Hamilton describes her life growing up on a farm in rural Indiana, a scenario that should have been idyllic except that their everyday life was torn apart by identity theft. Who was behind this? An estranged relative? A jealous friend? A larcenous coworker? As Axton goes off to college, she decides to major in consumer sciences and becomes an expert in identity theft, specializing in crimes perpetrated against children. With all her knowledge, can she finally unravel the mystery of her family's problems? Although I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, I found this to be a compelling read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    April

    This is a WOW story and not in a good way. This story, true events, took place in the city/county that I've lived in all my life. I vaguely remember Pam Betz; insurance agency and bookkeeper. I'm shocked to learn of the manipulation, lies and decept that took place over so many years. But I truly hurt for the young child, girl, teenage, Axton, that can't have a life do over, that suffered emotionally as well as physically. She would have been welcomed at my meager dinner table anytime. Should I This is a WOW story and not in a good way. This story, true events, took place in the city/county that I've lived in all my life. I vaguely remember Pam Betz; insurance agency and bookkeeper. I'm shocked to learn of the manipulation, lies and decept that took place over so many years. But I truly hurt for the young child, girl, teenage, Axton, that can't have a life do over, that suffered emotionally as well as physically. She would have been welcomed at my meager dinner table anytime. Should I have the opportunity to meet this author I would tell her how proud of her, that I am, that she rose above of her circumstances, obtained an education, pursued the buried truth and had the fortitude to put her painful story out in print for all to see. If it helps or inspires only one person, it is worth it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily Newell

    I heard about this book on Fresh Air and was super excited. I thought it would be more of a mystery, but it’s easy early on to figure out who the perpetrator is. For how fascinating the story is, it should be a more engaging read, but something about the writing or pacing was just off.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chantel

    To state that this book was phenomenal would be an understatement. Betz-Hamilton leads the reader through the gripping retelling of her troubled childhood in a home that saw her encouraged to hide behind closed curtains, mail pilled high from the purchases racked up by an unknown assailant — the identity thief. I will not hide from you the weight that this story carries; it is incredibly sad. As one works their way through the history of the ruin which was the family home, it does not escape one h To state that this book was phenomenal would be an understatement. Betz-Hamilton leads the reader through the gripping retelling of her troubled childhood in a home that saw her encouraged to hide behind closed curtains, mail pilled high from the purchases racked up by an unknown assailant — the identity thief. I will not hide from you the weight that this story carries; it is incredibly sad. As one works their way through the history of the ruin which was the family home, it does not escape one how utterly trapped young Betz-Hamilton must have felt, knowing that the two people who were set to protect her from the world, never found the words to explain that danger that lurks in the mind; ambitions of perverse inclinations, are just as malevolent as the ones that circle communities, from which she was kept at bay. My great thanks go to the author for having the courage & wit to piece together a tragic story. I cannot begin to fathom how one is expected to rebuild a life that one was never given the chance to enjoy, to begin with. The writing style employed in this book was beautiful. I read through this book in record time; every chapter left me desirous to solve the mystery. I would encourage this book to be read. It’s a breathtakingly sad story but one which requests the reader to pause in their attempt to comprehend actions, neglect & relationships. True stories can be tragic. Life is can be mysterious & overwhelmingly difficult to understand.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Bronstein

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a very strange book. I figured out very early on that her psychopathic mother was the so-called "identity thief" who ruined Axton Betz-Hamilton's life and that of her father. So the way the book is structured, as if it's some kind of mystery, makes the first 2/3 of the book extremely tedious. Axton grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Indiana, she didn't have any friends, and her parents cut the family off from relatives and the outside world. She went to Christian school. She h This is a very strange book. I figured out very early on that her psychopathic mother was the so-called "identity thief" who ruined Axton Betz-Hamilton's life and that of her father. So the way the book is structured, as if it's some kind of mystery, makes the first 2/3 of the book extremely tedious. Axton grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Indiana, she didn't have any friends, and her parents cut the family off from relatives and the outside world. She went to Christian school. She had panic attacks. She loved her cats. The recounting of such a life is, by it's very nature, going to be boring, and it was. Let's fast forward. Against all odds, Axton graduates from undergraduate school and eventually gets a master's and a PhD, but her entire life is structured around the obsession with who stole her identity and ruined her credit. She has other weird obsessions too, including an eating disorder that she still has, and an attachment disorder that prevents her from living with her husband! Does she actually love Rob, or is he just a placeholder who is there because midwestern women are supposed to be married? None of this is really acknowledged (it seems like the failure to really see themselves is a facet of memoirists). The book starts to pick up when the enigmatic mother dies and it turns out she was living a whole second life, feloniously spending other people's money, cheating on her intensely boring husband, practicing BDSM, and buying loads of crap from the Home Shopping Network and department stores. The story of how Axton's mother Pam Elliot managed to live for decades as a brazen thief without being caught is somewhat interesting, but it is more interesting--to me, at least--that she was a such an incredibly heinous person, who was incapable of love. Axton upholds the pretense for about a paragraph that maybe her mother was abused as a child or had something like Dissociative Identity Disorder, but that doesn't match the facts, at least as narrated in the book. Rather, she was just a stone cold, incredibly narcissistic person, obsessed with being the center of attention, who never wanted children. The book would have been much more interesting had Betz-Hamilton spent less time harping on "my life was ruined by identity theft" and more reflecting about the way her life was ruined by her parents' weirdly passive-aggressive family dynamics and lack of concern for their child. Maybe the book would have been more interesting then. I hope the author is getting therapy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Dilg

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. SPOILERS This book isn’t about Identity Theft. It’s about mental illness and childhood emotional abuse. Mental illness is only brought up near the end as an afterthought (it’s not DID - it’s more like borderline personality disorder). I don’t really know what to say about this book except that it would make a very interesting magazine article or TV special but as a book it just didn’t work for me. Also, we’re we supposed to not realize it was the mom until that was revealed because it was pretty SPOILERS This book isn’t about Identity Theft. It’s about mental illness and childhood emotional abuse. Mental illness is only brought up near the end as an afterthought (it’s not DID - it’s more like borderline personality disorder). I don’t really know what to say about this book except that it would make a very interesting magazine article or TV special but as a book it just didn’t work for me. Also, we’re we supposed to not realize it was the mom until that was revealed because it was pretty clear all along that it was.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    Ehhhh. I was right. I called the outcome 15% of the way in and by 90% it’s revealed. My opinion: this could have been 1/3 shorter. 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca S Chapman Dann

    Once I started it I couldn’t do anything else. This feisty young woman is from my hometown. I am aware that her portrayal of our area, Jay County, IN has angered some people but I guess when I read it I didn’t take it personally because I knew she was seeing her world as indoctrinated by her mother. I do hate it that her childhood was so dysfunctional. This is a fascinating memoir but also a good view at the lives of a family torn apart by mental illness and deceit. How terrible to find out that Once I started it I couldn’t do anything else. This feisty young woman is from my hometown. I am aware that her portrayal of our area, Jay County, IN has angered some people but I guess when I read it I didn’t take it personally because I knew she was seeing her world as indoctrinated by her mother. I do hate it that her childhood was so dysfunctional. This is a fascinating memoir but also a good view at the lives of a family torn apart by mental illness and deceit. How terrible to find out that one whom you have trusted and adored your whole life has hurt you to your very core with no sign of remorse. Ms Betz-Hamilton has taken identity theft to heart and made it her occupation to help victims. UPDATE I went with friends to her presentation at Arts Place in Portland, Indiana which is where she graduated from high school. She is a pretty, articulate young woman. It was an excellent presentation both about her life and about how identity theft happens. I had a nice little chat with her after and I hope she enjoyed her visit as much as I did.

  17. 5 out of 5

    NICOLE VENTRESCA

    This was a fascinating story BUT the author’s “writer’s voice” annoyed me to no end. She somehow managed to be self-pitying and know it all simultaneously. Pretty amazing feat. One of my favorite chapter endings? “I want to know the truth because the truth is important.” 🤮

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    Enduring a childhood and teen years marked by increasing isolation, family dysfunction, and paranoia, Axton Betz-Hamilton suffered emotional scars brought on by unknown identity thieves that targeted her family. Thinking she'd escaped her parents' troubles once she went away to college, she then finds she was also a victim of the theft as early as age 11, causing her own bad credit issues for years. She details the direct impact this had on her family, her behavior, mental health, and later care Enduring a childhood and teen years marked by increasing isolation, family dysfunction, and paranoia, Axton Betz-Hamilton suffered emotional scars brought on by unknown identity thieves that targeted her family. Thinking she'd escaped her parents' troubles once she went away to college, she then finds she was also a victim of the theft as early as age 11, causing her own bad credit issues for years. She details the direct impact this had on her family, her behavior, mental health, and later career choices in this Edgar Award winning memoir. Now an expert in identity theft issues, Betz-Hamilton takes the information of her own case frequently shared in public/professional settings, most known for the segment on the Criminal podcast, and presents it in novel form. I could not put this down, and I can't wait to discuss it with others at my next book club meeting. Admittingly, I wanted a bit more introspection on what happened (especially after some huge revelations), and I'd hoped for at least some details on all the steps it took her to clear up her financial life. Really liked this one but it left me with questions.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Interesting story, but wouldn’t categorize as true crime. It would have been better as a podcast than long form book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Wheeler

    You know me - the memoir queen! This was a solid read about a family who struggles with having their identities stolen multiple times back in the 80s. That long ago, stolen identities weren't a normal thing, and no one really knew what to do about the situation. The book read very suspenseful, because you are reading to find out who is the one doing the stealing - which you don't find out until the 80% mark. Unfortunately, some Goodreads reviews spoiled that for me (and they didn't mark it as a You know me - the memoir queen! This was a solid read about a family who struggles with having their identities stolen multiple times back in the 80s. That long ago, stolen identities weren't a normal thing, and no one really knew what to do about the situation. The book read very suspenseful, because you are reading to find out who is the one doing the stealing - which you don't find out until the 80% mark. Unfortunately, some Goodreads reviews spoiled that for me (and they didn't mark it as a spoiler!) so be careful which reviews you are reading. All in all, even though I was spoiled on the who-dun-it, I really enjoyed the story and learning more about identity theft.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    When you think you know someone and find out you have no clue who they are. Axton Betz-Hamilton’s family has been struggling financial for years. Her mother, Pamela, controlled the house income while her father worked & handed over the money. Day in, day out bill collectors would call & the refrigerator would be empty. None of this made sense as both parents made decent money. Moving forward, Betz-Hamilton goes off to college and is all set to get her own place but ends up being denied because of When you think you know someone and find out you have no clue who they are. Axton Betz-Hamilton’s family has been struggling financial for years. Her mother, Pamela, controlled the house income while her father worked & handed over the money. Day in, day out bill collectors would call & the refrigerator would be empty. None of this made sense as both parents made decent money. Moving forward, Betz-Hamilton goes off to college and is all set to get her own place but ends up being denied because of credit debt that she had since she was 11 years old. Wait? What?! Oh, wait, it gets better. At this point Betz-Hamilton has had enough! She files a police report and continues her search on the identity theft that is causing mayhem in her life. Betz-Hamilton mother is diagnosed with leukemia and doesn’t have much time. She and her father do all they can to make her comfortable & gather all information so he can live. That means getting all her passwords to pay the bills. SHOCKING moment about to happen! When Pam dies all her skeletons are revealed and once, I found out my jaw dropped! I don’t want to spoil anything, just read this book. That pacing sucks, but its not enough to make you stop reading. As the story unfolded all I could say was “wtf!”, “no way!” . True crime junkies will enjoy this one. Thank you, NetGalley & Grand Central Publishing for gifting me this DARC in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Erin Cataldi

    I wish I had not tuned into this author's library program until AFTER I had read the book because she told us all about it and revealed who stole her identity. Had I read it first I am sure I would have been way more shocked - but as I read this memoir I knew what was coming. When Axton was a child her parents had their identity stolen and it made them fearful of everyone - who was doing this to them, why were checks bouncing and utilities getting cut off. It led for a lonely childhood. When she I wish I had not tuned into this author's library program until AFTER I had read the book because she told us all about it and revealed who stole her identity. Had I read it first I am sure I would have been way more shocked - but as I read this memoir I knew what was coming. When Axton was a child her parents had their identity stolen and it made them fearful of everyone - who was doing this to them, why were checks bouncing and utilities getting cut off. It led for a lonely childhood. When she finally flew the coop and left for college, Axton was excited to leave the fear behind her and start the next chapter of her life, but unfortunately when she goes to get her own apartment she discovers that her credit is in the bottom 2% - it's beyond horrible. It turns out it wasn't just her parents with stolen identities - her had been too. Credit cards taken out in her name when she was just a child, the whole gambit. Axton makes it her mission to get to the bottom of it but sometimes the answers are worse than the problems. Heartbreaking - what a messed up little family.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    A terrible thing to have happen but very well told.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nicole (buriedinmybooks)

    Would like to give this 3.5 stars but since that’s not possible and I don’t think it’s a 4 star read, I rounded down. The story is fascinating but I didn’t love the writing. That said 3 stars for the writing and 4 stars for the story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Axton Betz-Hamilton's childhood was extraordinary for all the wrong reasons. She grew up in a home full of deception and secrets, the reality of which came to light only after her mother's death. What a bombshell of discoveries. Financial fraud, romantic affairs, a whole secret life; her mother was something else all right. In addition, the constant emotional abuse perpetrated on the author while growing up may have been subtle but was relentless and insidious in nature, taking deep root and lea Axton Betz-Hamilton's childhood was extraordinary for all the wrong reasons. She grew up in a home full of deception and secrets, the reality of which came to light only after her mother's death. What a bombshell of discoveries. Financial fraud, romantic affairs, a whole secret life; her mother was something else all right. In addition, the constant emotional abuse perpetrated on the author while growing up may have been subtle but was relentless and insidious in nature, taking deep root and leading to a lifetime of insecurities. I know the feeling well. It's a brave undertaking to share this story. The author did a great job. The narration is excellent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Kade

    Absolutely fascinating and terribly sad at the same time. I heard Axton speak on a podcast and it led me to her book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    3.5/ 4 stars for this one. Loved the true crime factor behind this memoir! Axton’s family has struggled for years financially with bill collectors calling and foreclosures imminent. Moving forward, Axton goes to college and realizes her identity has been stolen as well. How could she have opened a credit card at 11? Schooling turn of events and a twist I did not see coming that sets us up for the rest of the book. I’m still reeling from it! I kept saying No Way as I was reading! A quick read tha 3.5/ 4 stars for this one. Loved the true crime factor behind this memoir! Axton’s family has struggled for years financially with bill collectors calling and foreclosures imminent. Moving forward, Axton goes to college and realizes her identity has been stolen as well. How could she have opened a credit card at 11? Schooling turn of events and a twist I did not see coming that sets us up for the rest of the book. I’m still reeling from it! I kept saying No Way as I was reading! A quick read that definitely makes you second guess knowing people.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Quick and engaging read - I did not want to stop reading this. So much so, that one day I left the book at work and I nearly cried because it meant I couldn't read it before bed. My Library has this book shelved under "364.163," which is the Criminal Offenses section. I thought this book was more of a memoir. Betz-Hamilton takes the reader through her life, highlighting the parts that impacted her the most, as her family suffered from identity theft. Betz-Hamilton explains how she learned to be de Quick and engaging read - I did not want to stop reading this. So much so, that one day I left the book at work and I nearly cried because it meant I couldn't read it before bed. My Library has this book shelved under "364.163," which is the Criminal Offenses section. I thought this book was more of a memoir. Betz-Hamilton takes the reader through her life, highlighting the parts that impacted her the most, as her family suffered from identity theft. Betz-Hamilton explains how she learned to be defensive and protective of her home as her parents dealt with charges that couldn't be explained. This ordeal inspired Betz-Hamilton to focus on identity theft professional, making a career out of it. Her passion solidified when she learned that she, just like her parents, also had her identity stolen. After her mother's death, however, the truth about the hardships the family suffered were revealed. I loved this book, it was well written and interesting. I felt the author, although not completely transparent, lead the reader to guess who the thief of their identities was.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    [I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review] The summary of "The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity" (releasing 10/15/19) caught my eye because identity theft is horrifying and fascinating to me. I want to know how these things happen? Who are the perpetrators? How do people rebuild their lives after they've had their identities stolen? I was really surprised that while I thought this book would be focus [I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review] The summary of "The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity" (releasing 10/15/19) caught my eye because identity theft is horrifying and fascinating to me. I want to know how these things happen? Who are the perpetrators? How do people rebuild their lives after they've had their identities stolen? I was really surprised that while I thought this book would be focused on the intricacies of financial accounts, creditors, etc., the author's personal story had me crying several times. By bravely sharing her story, Axton Betz-Hamilton shows that the so called "white collar crime" of identity theft is an often overlooked form of abuse that can utterly devastate a family.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Karunaratne

    I'd not heard anything about this story before diving in - so the revelations were shocking. Betz-Hamilton charts the emotional, financial and psychological trauma of being engulfed in an elaborate identify theft that begun when she was 11 years old. I read this in one day, so driven was the story line.... it was definitely a 'just one more chapter' kind of a book. The closing chapters were the weakest and the only part where I was craving for her to go deeper than she did. I'd not heard anything about this story before diving in - so the revelations were shocking. Betz-Hamilton charts the emotional, financial and psychological trauma of being engulfed in an elaborate identify theft that begun when she was 11 years old. I read this in one day, so driven was the story line.... it was definitely a 'just one more chapter' kind of a book. The closing chapters were the weakest and the only part where I was craving for her to go deeper than she did.

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