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Family Fraud Identity Theft - Stolen Identity, Familiar Fraud

Identity Theft Among Family Members - It Can Happen To You

Last Updated: April 20, 2016

An identity theft report by Javelin Strategy & Research in 2013, says that cases of identity theft increased by 13 percent in 2012, with more than 11.6 million U.S. adults becoming victims. But that study doesn't reveal an even scarier reality about ID theft - how many thieves are actually related to their victims.

Think this can't happen to you? Recent family fraud statistics show over approximately 500,000 children and over 2 million elderly adults, are victims of identity theft.  Here are some tips to identify and protect yourself against family fraud and family member identity theft.

What is Family ID Theft

When identity fraud victims know their imposters, it can tear through both relationships and financial well-being. "Familiar fraud" or "Family Fraud" occurs when a friend, extended family member or even a parent uses a close relationship for their own financial gain. The thief takes advantage of bonds of trust, making the crime emotionally devastating. According to the Javelin Research and Strategy's 2014 Identity Fraud Report, 847,000 American victims of identity theft knew their thief. 

Many cases of familiar fraud go undetected for years. For example, when parents use the financial identities of their children, the fraud often goes undiscovered until the children attempt to build their own credit.

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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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