Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All in the Family--Parents Stealing Kids' Identity

From Fox Business News. First, we had to worry about who was going through our trash. Then, we had to worry about hackers and scam artists on the web. Now we have to worry about our own PARENTS!

"Identity theft can be a horrible crime, no matter who's behind it. Victims may spend years trying to convince others -- creditors,potential employers and, at times, the police -- that they didn't run up the bills or commit the crimes to which their names are attached.

However, one type of identity theft that's particularly insidious is the theft of a child's identity by a parent. For starters, the crime may go undetected for years, until the child is old enough to apply for a job or loan. In the meantime, the parent may continue to destroy the child's credit record. The emotional wounds can be just as devastating, as the victims wonder how someone they trusted could so cavalierly abuse their relationship."

In other words, you may be screwed before you even get started. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

"Parents struggling through a long period of unemployment may damage their own credit and use their child's as a replacement. Some parents use their childrens' identities to provide the kids themselves with pricey clothes and other gear."


"Unfortunately, it's not all that difficult for parents to steal their children's identities. After all, they're the ones who apply for a newborn's Social Security number. The ITRC lists several signs that may indicate a child's identity has been stolen by a parent or relative with access to the child's Social Security number. Among them:

* Credit card offers come in the child's name or nickname, even though the child doesn't have a bank account.

* The parent or relative struggles financially, then suddenly appears to have money.

* The parent already has a history of misusing others' identities.

* The parent and child live apart, yet the child's name appears on the parent's caller ID system"


"If you suspect that a minor's identity has been compromised by a parent or other relative, several steps are in order. Contact the credit reporting agencies to see whether your child actually has a credit report. This will need to be done in writing, since the information the credit reporting agency will have on file probably won't match they information you submit. Say your estranged spouse who lives several states away stole your child's identification, while your child lives with you. The address on file at the credit reporting agency likely will differ from your child's actual address."


"A word of caution: If the child doesn't have a credit report, it can be tempting to repeatedly check back with the agencies, just to make sure that his or her record remains clean. However, the requests in themselves may trigger the creation of a report, increasing the possibility of identity theft, Foley says. Instead -- barring future incidents that lead you to believe someone is misusing the child's credit -- you probably can wait several years before checking again, she adds."


"What about changing your child's Social Security number? The Social Security Administration will change an individual's number only if its misuse is causing ongoing, serious problems, says spokesman Mark Lassiter. He also cautions that changing the number creates a new set of challenges, even for a child. For instance, if the child is old enough to have a driver's license, tax records or bank accounts under the old number, those will need to be updated as well. Just changing the number with the Social Security Administration won't automatically update these other records."


"If there is one sort-of bright sign in all this, it's that families appear to be more supportive of children who are victims of identity theft by a parent or relative. Until a few years ago, these kids often were advised to keep quiet, Foley says. Today, "child identity theft is out of the closet."


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