Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., affecting one out of four people every year according to the FTC. This is a staggering statistic, but even more startling may be the number of victims who are children. The FTC reports that children represent five percent of the victims of identity theft, which equates to about 500,000 child identities stolen each year.
Stories of Child Identity Theft: A Family Affair Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., affecting one out of four people every year according to the FTC. This is a staggering statistic, but even more startling may be the number of victims who are children. The FTC reports that children represent five percent of the victims of identity theft, which equates to about 500,000 child identities stolen each year. These child identity theft statistics only account for reported cases, which do not tell the whole story. It’s nearly impossible to know the full extent of child identity theft since the vast majority of cases go unreported. This is largely due to the fact that parents and family members are often the culprits, so victims are reluctant to turn them in. The damages are typically higher for children of identity theft because they only discover their identities have been stolen when they reach adulthood and begin trying to acquire credit and loans. In addition to destroying credit, child identity theft can have a profoundly devastating effect on family relationships as well. These are a few of their stories: Child Identity Theft Victim Rejected for Home Loan: Southern California renter Ana Ramirez had to make a choice: report her mother to the police or be able to get a home loan. At the age of 25 she discovered that, according to her credit report, she was a delinquent home owner. On paper, Ana had been in default since she was 10 years old. Her mother stole her identity to take out her own mortgage when Ana was just a child, failed to make payments, and then fell into foreclosure. Ana continues to be a victim because she is unwilling to report her mother to the police, an all too common burden shared by many child identity theft victims. As a result, even though her dream is to one day own a home, Ana is currently unable to qualify for a home loan or obtain credit cards. Father Escapes Prison and Steals Son’s Identity: When he was 15, Chip St. Clair’s parents stole his identity to take out nearly $50,000 in car loans, apartment leases, utilities, and student loans over the course of three years. He didn’t find out he was yet another child identity theft victim until he was 22 and learned that is father was charged with escaping from an Indiana state prison in the 1970s. Chip’s father used his identity to create a new one for himself, and Chip has spent over a decade tirelessly trying to remove student loans and fraudulent charges from his credit report while paying high-interest rates on loans because of his poor credit. 1 Mother Steals Two-Year-Old Daughter’s Identity: Jeff Ramey began receiving calls from creditors eight years ago, asking to speak with his daughter who was only five years old. Jeff pulled her credit report and found eight credit cards in her name dating back to when she was two. The worst part may have been that the culprit was the girl’s mother who was arrested several years later and, after trial, was ordered to pay off the $5,000 credit card debt in her daughter’s name. Too Young to Have a Credit Report: Diamond Daye’s credit report showed that she applied for cell phones, cable, credit cards, and other credit, and that the bills had been sent to collection agencies. But Diamond was only 13, so she shouldn’t have had a credit report. Her parents had separated several years earlier and it turned out that her mother was the identity thief. The mother’s cousin eventually tipped-off Diamond’s father that she was using her daughter’s Social Security number to obtain credit whenever she needed it. Preventing Identity Theft: Although child victims of identity theft are helpless to fight for themselves, once the ID theft is discovered there are many proactive ways to begin preventing further crimes, such as keeping copies of credit card information in a safe place, obtaining credit reports from the three major credit bureaus once a year, and implementing credit freezes. In addition to these preventative measures, the most effective way to avoid all forms of identity theft is to enroll in a trusted identity theft prevention program. Entrust America is an identity theft prevention specialist that offers law enforcement grade protection and guarantees restoration of identities to pre-theft status. Learn more about preventing identity theft by visiting www.TheIdentityAdvocate.com or calling 310.831.4400. 2
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