While reading the paper this morning, my eyes caught an article headline that read ...
"Police say mom stole daughter's identity, charged money".
You can see why my attention was drawn to the article, can't you? Nothing seems more low or appalling than the thought of a parent harming their own child, their child's future, and their credit ratings through identity theft .
I have written of this subject before. ("When the Identity Thief is Mom or Dad ... What Do You Do?) And as much as we'd always like to think warm and fuzzy thoughts of family, it's obvious from statistics and this news article ... this crime is out there and happens more often than we realize.
I can see how easily this crime could be accomplished. Marilyn and I used to kid our youngest son about the number of credit card offers he received on a fairly consistent basis even at a very young age. It was obvious that his name had found its way on to some leads list that all the credit card companies were utilizing at the time.
For a parent or family member in a desperate situation, offers such as those that landed in our mailbox could be pretty tempting and seem like a good solution to problems. And as today's article shows, some parents and family members aren't resisting that temptation.
As reported in my blog mentioned above, the damage resulting from this crime is two-fold to the child victim. There's the obvious damage done to the credit and finances of the child. But perhaps even worse and harder to correct, is the emotional damage done. The sense of betrayal felt by the child is acute in these cases.
There are a few warning signs that a child's identity has been compromised or stolen. They are:
- Calls are received from collection agencies.
- Bills and/or credit cards are received in the child's name.
- An Internal Revenue Service notice received noting a child's name or Social Security Number is listed on another tax return.
- Pre-Approved credit card offers are received in the child's name. (Please remember: THESE may also come from a child's legitimate bank account or college savings account.)
- An addict or someone with a history of fraud ... and knows or has access to a child's Social Security Number ... has a sudden infusion of cash or an improvement in their lifestyle.
There is legal recourse regarding these matters and the police can be called in. But many times, families do not wish to pursue criminal charges. What to do then??
First ... seek professional counseling for the child victim. There's going to be emotional fallout from the crime perpetrated against them.
Next ... seek-out a professional or credit specialist to assist you with untangling the credit and financial damage done. Measure and monitor the successes as they are being made. Run periodic checks on the child victim's credit to make sure that corrective measures are taking place as they should, making a difference on the victim's credit scores, and staying corrected on all future reports.
And remember ... results are achievable, but will require vigilence and attention. Re-establishing good credit takes time and consistency of effort to achieve. Definitely worth it and definitely the right thing to do for the child.
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