I was shocked to learn this about identity theft!
Each year, identity theft affects more than 11 million people in North America. The scary thing is, in the majority of cases, the thief is someone you know. In fact, according to ABC News, a growing number of victims are like Larry Braziel, Jr. When he turned 19, he started getting phone calls from a collection agency, demanding money, all before he’d even applied for a credit card. Larry checked his credit report, and discovered he was more than $100,000 in debt, with half of that tied up in a home mortgage. In Larry’s case, the thief turned out to be his own father! Dad had used his son’s Social Security number to open several lines of credit, and with all that debt, Larry’s credit history was destroyed.
Believe it or not, he’s not alone. Statistics show that in about one-in-20 identity theft cases, parents are stealing their own children’s identities for financial gain! It’s becoming more common in this tough economy, and experts say it’s extremely easy to do, since parents have access to their kids’ most personal information. Linda Foley is co-founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center. She says parents who are desperate enough won’t hesitate to use a child’s Social Security number to take out a loan. Then, depending on a child’s age, that kind of theft can go undetected for years. Foley says the most common red flag is if bills in a child’s name, or pre-approved credit-card offers, start showing up in the mail. She adds that the most heart-breaking thing about child identity theft is that children rarely turn their parents in, even as adults. They may think: "What a horrible child would I be to report my own mother or father to the police?"
No matter who steals your identity, Foley says you must file a police report. That’s the only way you’ll be able to get legal protection from collection agencies. It’s also the only way you’ll be able to begin repairing your bad credit, before you put your entire financial future at risk. For tips to help you do that, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center, at IDTheftCenter.org.