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Family Fraud Identity Theft Protection - Stolen Identity, Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft Among Family Members - What Can You Do If This Happens To You

Last Updated: February 5, 2014

Think this can't happen to you? Unfortunately, the following scenarios are common. We receive at least one letter a month along these lines. We are writing this to point out that you never know who the "identity thief" will be. All the more reason to take preventative steps to protect your credit.

Real Identity Theft Cases

The following letter represents one of the worst cases I have received.

My dad has been taking out credit cards in my name, my brother's name, my sister's name, and my mom's name. Now I fear that he may be doing the same to my 14 year old brother. I just received my credit report and it said my brother's name in the AKA column. That would not appear there accidentally. I wonder if he's been using my social security number and my brother's name to apply for credit. By the way, my sister is autistic and is mentally handicapped and he has a credit card in her name.

I've been hoping for some time that he'll eventually take the credit cards out of my name. He has run up high balances on the cards in my name, about $10,000; however, he keeps current on the payments. This has affected my ability to obtain credit; on the car loan that my husband and I recently obtained, we got stuck with an 18% rate in part due to the credit card activity he has taken in my name. He has paid off a couple of the cards in my name and I was hoping he'd do the same with the last few. I thought he was taking care of this until I saw my brother's name on my credit report.

It's very difficult in how to handle this situation. My mom is in a bad relationship with him; he has actually threatened to kill her in the past, so obviously this makes her very reluctant to do anything. She has talked to a lawyer and he told her that she is legally responsible since she knew that this has been going on. But because of his threat, she hasn't been able to do anything. I do want him to close out all of the accounts that he illegally obtained in other people's names.

He is a farmer and began the "credit card business" as a way to pay off farm debt. He is very addicted to credit cards-they are what his life revolves around. He has probably close to 50 credit cards in his own name. I know that if I would try to press charges for credit card fraud against him, he would probably threaten me. I am very afraid of him. I really don't know what to do as this situation has really gotten out of hand. I would appreciate any help you could give me.

OK, so this guy is a REALLY bad guy. Most family fraud doesn't start out with bad people, just situations that get out of control. Most people are extremely ignorant about the consequences of opening up new credit in a family member's name. They may not mean any harm, thinking, "Who'll ever know?" Things I've heard: "Mom has good credit, I'll just use hers to get a card so I can pay my son's medical bills. I'll be able to afford the payments." And when they are unable to keep up the bills, guess who gets stuck? Mom. We received one letter from a guy who used his dad's SSN so he could pay for his own wedding, and sure enough, couldn't make the payments on the card. He wrote to find out what he could do to get out of it and save his father's credit.

Here's another letter:

My girlfriend was recently called at work about an account at Pier One Imports that she was late on. The only problem was she did not have an account with them. Well through digging and digging they discovered that her sister had opened an account in her name. The store did not verify anything at all. They opened an account in my girlfriend's name, with her SSN, home address, etc, etc, etc.. The mailing address was my girlfriend's, and the BILLING address was her sister's (I would think this would raise a flag).

The account is 3 months overdue, no payments have ever been made.. and now she is being told that in order to not be liable she has to either pay the account off or file charges against her sister. Well she won't do the latter because it would cause family problems. But she doesn't have the extra money to be paying off a debt that was not hers to begin with.

What to do if You are a Victim of Family Fraud

Remember, bank fraud is a federal offense. Unfortunately, if you have had a family member use your SSN to fraudulently obtain credit, you only have two options:

  1. Turn them in to the creditor. The credit card company will absolutely press charges against your relative.
  2. Pay off the debt yourself, if your relative can't. If you can't afford the debt your relative has racked up, your credit will take a hit.

Most of the people who wrote to us about relatives whose identity had been stolen were absolutely distraught because they couldn't pay the debts opened in their names and refused to turn over a member of their own family to the creditors; they were facing an unsolvable problem.

We've seen every possible kind of family member act as a thief: father, mother, son, daughter, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, sisters, brother. Don't let this happen to you. Take the steps necessary to protect your identity and your credit.

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