Is There an Identity Thief Hiding in Your Family?
When most people picture an identity thief, they think of a hacker in a dark-lit room or a case-hardened criminal with no involve for the jurisprudence. What they don ’ thymine envision is their parent, child, spouse, or grandchild. But familial imposter — in which family members steal your identity to open credit cards in your name and give other types of imposter — is on the rise. Over 70 % of child identify fraud cases are committed by person the family knows [ * ]. And in the font of older family members, relatives commit six out of 10 cases of elder financial abuse [ * ]. And those are only the reported statistics.
Confronting or charging a family member with identity larceny is a unmanageable emotional decision. You might believe that your proportional equitable made a error or didn ’ t think it was a crime to use your personal information. therefore what should you do if a class member opens a citation card in your name ? In this scout, we ’ ll look at what you need to know about kin identity larceny, the potential outcomes and dangers, and what you can do if a relative opens a credit card in your identify .
How Does a Relative Open a Credit Card in Your Name?
class identity larceny occurs when a family member, spouse, or defender illegally uses your personal data for fiscal gain. One of the most common scenarios is that a family penis opens a accredit calling card in your name. In one case, a four-year-old ’ mho estranged beget used the child ’ s Social Security number ( SSN ) to take out multiple credit cards. Before the child was old enough to count, he had racked up thousands of dollars in debt [ * ]. unfortunately, it ’ mho very easy to fall victim to this type of identity theft. beginning, family members are frequently privy to information that is inaccessible to non-relatives. Opening a newly credit card account, at most, requires a name, basic contact information, crying annual income, and employment condition. many credit rating card issuers don ’ metric ton ask for a SSN ), and few verify the income or even the age of the applicant. This information could well be found in your mail or in personal finance documents that are located around the house. second, perpetrators of syndicate ID larceny can use their relationships with victims to keep citation calling card imposter a confidential. If identity thieves live in the same family with you, they can hide bills and answer telephone calls from creditors without your cognition. And flush if you see the warning signs of identity theft, a family member can use the “ hope divisor ” to persuade you that it ’ s all “ a boastful misconstrue. ” family identity larceny can happen in several ways. You should be cautious of the following most common situations :
- Elder fraud. Caregivers and children of senior citizens can take advantage of their elder family members. Many justify elder financial abuse by claiming they’re simply taking money from their inheritance [*].
- Child identity theft. Children have clean credit reports and SSNs, which makes them prime targets for family members who want to commit credit card fraud. What’s more, most children won’t discover they’re an identity theft victim until later in life when they apply for student loans or credit cards.
- Spousal fraud. Your spouse — or even your ex — has access to incredibly personal data, including banking information and passwords. Plus, while married couples might choose to combine assets, credit scores always remain separate. A spouse with a low credit score may take advantage of their partner’s good score.
- Other family fraud (siblings, more distant relatives). Siblings and other relatives can also commit family fraud by relying on your trust factor. Anyone who has access to your personal information could be a risk.
- Deceased family fraud (aka “ghosting”). Even a deceased family member could become the target of identity theft. It can take government agencies, credit bureaus, and financial institutions weeks to register someone as deceased. This buys a convenient window of time for family members to commit financial identity theft in a deceased relative’s name.
In any of these situations, look for the distinctive admonition signs of financial fraud and credit card scams — including calls from credit card companies or debt collectors you don ’ triiodothyronine acknowledge, unexpected accounts or loans on your citation report, and if a syndicate penis ’ s fiscal situation on the spur of the moment and by chance changes ( such as buying new clothes, phones, cars, etc. ). Pro tip: Keep constant check on your credit and fiscal accounts with credit monitor. Aura can alert you in near real-time if person is trying to open raw accounts in your name .
Is Family Identity Theft a Crime?
Yes. Family identity larceny is a crime. And if you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to be held creditworthy for the debt and damage to your citation score, you must treat it as a crime. Choosing to file a police report, and hold the kin member who has opened a citation menu in your name accountable, can be afflictive and difficult. It is normal to feel afraid of ruining the kinship or flush ashamed of the site. This is apprehensible. The aroused impact of syndicate identity imposter can not be understated. however, not treating family identity larceny as a crime makes you vulnerable to some unexpected dangers of identity theft, including :
- Higher auto insurance rates. Depending on the state, many auto insurance companies consider credit scores when determining rates [*].
- A deposit required for utilities. Utility companies (e.g. gas, electricity, etc.) also look at credit scores when someone applies for their services [*]. A bad credit score caused by identity theft can mean you’ll be required to pay a deposit on new services.
- Potential criminal records. Opening up a credit card in someone else’s name is identity theft. There’s always a chance the family member is also using your identity elsewhere — even to commit other crimes.
- Ineligibility for government support or student loans. If the offender has your SSN, they can apply for government support or student loans (i.e., unemployment scams). This will ruin your own eligibility and make it harder to get support in the future.
- You could be considered complicit in future crimes. If the offender is caught and you knew about the identity theft, you could risk appearing suspect or complicit if you knew but didn’t file a report.
If people close to you are bequeath to steal from you once, they will most likely do it again — specially if there are no consequences .
Did a Family Member Open a Credit Card In Your Name? Here’s What To Do Next
- Decide if you want to confront the family member
- Call the credit card issuer and cancel the account
- Gather any evidence of financial fraud
- Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- File a police report with local law enforcement
- Place a fraud alert with the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)
- Consider freezing your credit
- Dispute fraudulent charges and repair your credit score
- Change your passwords and secure your online accounts
- Consider signing up for identity theft protection services with credit monitoring
After confirming that a family extremity has opened a citation batting order in your name, here ’ s what to do adjacent :
1. Decide if you want to confront the family member
The first thing you should do if a family member opens a credit poster in your name is decide if you want to confront them. If you don ’ t confront the family extremity, you could be liable for all the debts they ’ ve accumulated. even if you don ’ thymine want the syndicate penis to get in worry, you won ’ t be able to fully recover from identity theft without filing a patrol report and an official complaint with the FTC. If you do decide to confront the family member, consider your motives for doing so. If you ’ re looking for a sense of closure, be mindful that you may not achieve this. Your relative will most probably tell you whatever you want to hear to stop you from pressing charges. If you ’ re at all afraid that the person may become crimson, prioritize your safety and let the patrol handle any confrontation .
2. Call the credit card issuer and cancel the account
next, you need to get rid of the deceitful credit tease history. Call the credit menu party and explain what happened. They ’ ll close your bill and walk you through the next steps ( such as issuing you a fresh account act or replacing a stolen credit circuit board ). The credit card company may require an official FTC identity larceny reputation before closing the account. If this is the case, tell them you ’ ll call option second once you ’ ve made your report card .
3. Gather any evidence of financial fraud
Before you can file a patrol and identity larceny report, gather the take after information :
- A recent copy of your credit report showing the fraudulent accounts (you can get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com).
- Credit card statements showing transactions that you didn’t make or authorize.
- Debt collection letters or other evidence of outstanding debts that you didn’t take out.
- Any proof or correspondence with the family member who stole your identity.
Make certain all of your evidence is dated and original .
4. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
An official identity theft report with the FTC is required to prove your identity has been stolen, shut down deceitful accounts, and repair your credit. Go to IdentityTheft.gov and follow the instructions there to file your claim. once you ’ ve completed the steps, you ’ ll receive some helpful identity larceny resources — including a custom-make convalescence plan, template letters to creditors, and an official document you can use when you dispute charges and file a police reputation .
5. File a police report with local law enforcement
Filing a patrol report international relations and security network ’ t constantly necessary when it comes to identity larceny. however, it ’ s a necessity in the case of syndicate identity larceny ( when you know the perpetrator ). here ’ south why :
- Withholding information may make you complicit if this person is later accused of other crimes. A police investigation could also lead to crimes the family member committed against you.
- If someone has stolen your identity once, they may have stolen it other times. There may already be police records in your name, which can only get cleared if you file a police report.
- Some financial institutions may require a police report to resolve disputes.
To file a police report, either call the non-emergency line ( i.e, not 911 ), or go in-person. Make certain you have your FTC reputation and any other proof of the crime.
If the kin member lives in a unlike city or state than you, file the report with the local patrol department in the municipality where the family member lives. besides, don ’ t let the age of the victim catch you from filing a police report. Some people avoid pressing charges out of fear that the victim won ’ thymine be able to properly testify ( such as in the case of child or elder fraud ). But cases like this trust on forensic psychoanalysis of fiscal records as opposed to witness testimony [ * ]. Pro tip: Your local anesthetic patrol department may tell you this is a family or civil matter. If this happens to you, ask to speak with a supervisor or contact your city ‘s Prosecuting Attorney ‘s agency .
6. Place a fraud alert with all three credit bureaus
A fraud alarm requires companies or lenders to verify your identity before issuing modern credit in your name. It ’ s a hardheaded step to protect your accredit from any future deceitful natural process or scam. An initial fraud alarm is active for one year, and an extended imposter alarm can last for up to seven years if you think your identity is still at risk. The good news is that you only have to contact one of the three major credit report agencies ( Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ) to set up a fraud alert. By law, they ’ ra required to alert the other two of the alert. here ’ s how to place a fraud alert with each credit agency : Pro tip: Recovering from imposter can take weeks or months — and cost thousands of dollars. Aura ’ s White Glove Fraud Resolution team can walk you through the steps to take, and they will even get on a tripartite address with your bank or creditors to sort out complex situations .
7. Consider freezing your credit
A credit freeze is an extra security measure that stops anyone from accessing your credit report — even you. This means you won ’ triiodothyronine be able to open new accounts or take out loans until you lift the freeze. Unfreezing your accredit shouldn ’ t take more than an hour, but that ’ s not a guarantee. however, with Aura, you can instantly lock and unlock your Experian accredit file with a single click. Consider a credit freeze if you think your fiscal accounts are calm at risk or if the class member may have shared or even sold your information on the Dark Web. If you do decide to freeze your credit, you must contact all three credit chest of drawers individually .
8. Dispute fraudulent charges and clean up your credit report
A kin member opening a recognition card in your name can cause serious price to your credit rating seduce. Call any company where imposter has occurred and dispute new accounts, faulty information, and deceitful transactions on your citation reputation. You can submit disputes and ask for deceitful accounts to be removed using the stick to links : recognition bureaus have between 30 and 45 days to investigate a quarrel once they receive it, and five business days to notify you of the results after finishing the investigation .
9. Change your passwords and secure your online accounts
If your fiscal and personal information has been compromised, your on-line accounts could besides be at risk. immediately change your trust report login information and e-mail passwords. family members often know your normally used passwords. so if you ’ ve been the victim of identity larceny, you should update all your passwords — not good passwords for fiscal accounts. Use dependable passwords or passphrases that include at least eight characters and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. And set up a password manager which will keep track of your newfangled logins and alert you if your passwords have been compromised in a data breach. You should besides consider changing any compromise IDs — such as your driver ‘s license and SSN. ( Although it ‘s unfortunately not always possible to change your SSN, evening after identity larceny ) .
10. Consider signing up for identity theft protection
Identity larceny security monitors all your accounts for signs of fraud. If person from your family or flush a complete strange is trying to steal your identity, you ’ ll receive a presentment in cheeseparing real-time so that you can shut them down. With Aura, you get:
- Credit monitoring with near real-time fraud alerts. Aura monitors your bank accounts, credit file, and other accounts for signs of fraud. Aura’s fraud alerts are up to 4X faster than the competition — so you can detect and stop scammers quickly.
- Online account monitoring and identity theft protection. Aura keeps track of all your online logins and passwords with a powerful password manager. You’ll be alerted if any of your accounts are compromised or if your information has been leaked to the Dark Web.
- Antivirus with protection against malware and phishing sites. Aura also protects your devices and network from hackers by using military-grade encryption and powerful antivirus software.
- Family identity theft protection for your children and elderly relatives. Aura’s Family Plans include coverage for up to five adults and children.
- White Glove Fraud Resolution Team. Aura’s U.S.-based support team is available 24/7 to walk you through the steps required to deal with and recover from financial fraud.
- A $1,000,000 insurance policy. Every adult member on your Aura plan is covered by a $1 million insurance policy for eligible losses due to identity theft.
If you ’ ve been the victim of identity larceny once, there ’ s a beneficial gamble it will happen again. Up to 30 % of identity larceny victims are targeted multiple times [ * ]. Pro tip: Protect your entire family against losses and damages from identity larceny and fraud. Every adult extremity included in an Aura account plan is covered by a $ 1,000,000 policy policy for eligible losses due to identity larceny. Related: Aura vs. LifeLock: Which identity theft protection provider is right for you? <--
Are You Responsible for Debts a Family Member Took Out?
The good news program is that most accredit calling card companies have “ zero liability ” protection for imposter — a long as you report the incident promptly and file an official report with the FTC. ( be sure to check your recognition tease issuer ‘s fraud policy. ) unfortunately, this means that if you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate report a recognition card taken out by a family member, you ’ ll most likely be held creditworthy for all debts, damage to your accredit report, and crimes committed in your name. Some people set up a legally bind agreement with the perpetrator to avoid criminal charges. But this is a slippery slope, as most people commit fiscal identity larceny because they don ’ t have money. Plus, unless the perpetrator and the credit issuer agree to move the deceitful score to the perpetrator ’ mho SSN, any credit card debt and damage will stay on your credit file .
How To Protect Your Credit From Fraudsters (Family or Not)
A class extremity opening a credit card in your name may seem far-fetched. unfortunately, credit card fraud of all types is more common than we realize. Protecting your credit and fiscal support from scammers requires that you be argus-eyed and proactive. here are a few steps that you can take to reduce the chances of becoming the victim of credit card fraud :
- Request your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com and look for potential fraud or incorrect information on your report.
- Shred credit card applications, free card offers, bank statements, and any other mail that includes your personal information.
- Be cautious if your mail stops arriving. Scammers will use a change-of-address scam to reroute your mail and receive your sensitive financial information or replacement credit cards.
- Avoid mentioning a good credit score to anyone. This information makes you an attractive candidate to anyone who might consider opening a credit card in someone else’s name.
- Try not to keep too many credit cards. It’s easier for missing or stolen cards to go unnoticed when you have multiple cards.
- Review both your bank and credit card statements each month and investigate any unfamiliar charges, no matter how small.
- Sign up for credit monitoring to automatically keep track of your sensitive accounts.
Related: How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft (11 Steps) →
The Bottom Line: Keep Your Finances and Identity Safe
identity larceny is an insidious crime. But it becomes tied more harrow and complicated when a family member is the wrongdoer.
The best option is to be proactive about protecting your identity and preventing credit card fraud. If a swindler or desperate class extremity can ’ thymine access your sensitive information, they can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate put your identity at gamble. To keep yourself and your family dependable, consider signing up for Aura. Aura will alert you of any deceitful action on your accounts and let you know if your sensitive information is being used to open new credit cards, take out loans, or worse. And if something severe happens, each pornographic on your plan is covered by a $ 1,000,000 policy policy for eligible losses ascribable to identity larceny .