#16 Family Fraud
Like other forms of identity theft, family identity theft is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. A family member can steal your information and use it for almost any purpose they choose. And, because family members share a close relationship with you, it is often easier for them to obtain your personal information than it is for a stranger. Family identity theft can take many forms, but some types are more common than are others when the thief is related to you in some way:
- Use of a Minor’s Identity: People under the age of 18 cannot get credit cards, obtain loans, or any other form of credit. But it isn’t uncommon for parents or relatives of those minors to use the personal information of a child or relative to open new accounts. In many situations, a child whose identity is stolen does not learn of the theft until they are old enough to apply for credit on their own, only to discover their credit was ruined long ago.
- Use of an Elderly Person’s Identity: This situation is most common when an elderly parent or grandparent has diminished abilities and is being cared for by an adult family member. For example, an unscrupulous adult caring for an elderly parent is often in the position to control the parent’s mail and communications. In such situations, the adult child can easily use the parent’s personal information to commit identity theft.
- Use of Spouse’s Identity: Spouses commonly share personal information, making it easy for them to commit spousal identity theft. Spousal identity theft can occur when, for example, one spouse uses the other spouse’s information to open new credit card accounts without the other spouse’s consent.
- Use of Sibling’s Identity: Your brothers and sisters, especially if they look like you or are of a similar age, can appropriate your identity. Financial, medical, employment, and criminal identity theft can occur among siblings. Even seemingly innocent forms of identity theft, such as a younger sibling using your identity to buy alcohol, can have serious repercussions.
- Ex–Spouse: Let’s not forget the emotional effects of divorce. Your ex-spouse normally has had access to personal information such as their spouse’s social security number, credit card number, date of birth, and other critical details. With this information in hand, they may be able to open new accounts or empty an existing account. The misuse of an identity may be even more likely during a divorce because of the bitterness that some people experience. People can be very emotionally charged when it comes to the end of marriage and some becomes so upset that they are willing to break the law.
No matter what form the identity theft takes, there are several negative consequences that can affect your credit score, creditor relations, financial losses, auto insurance rates, tax consequences, financial aid, and criminal history.
Credit monitoring will not alert you to this type of fraud.
LibertyID will take the following steps for/with their members:
- Place fraud alerts at all three credit reporting agencies
- Place credit freezes at all three credit reporting agencies, if appropriate
- Contact businesses where their information was misused and have the business close the fraudulent accounts and note the presence of identity theft
- File report with FTC
- File a police report
- If their identity theft involved the use of your driver’s license number, Social Security Number, or another type of identification, will we contact the relevant agencies to notify them of the theft
- Review credit reports with the victim to ensure there is no other types of fraud
- Provide credit monitoring with alerts for 12 months
- Periodically contact the member throughout the 12 months following resolution of their ID theft recovery case if warranted