Family fraud is almost unimaginable. How can you even think of a family member — like your mom or your dad or your child — stealing your identity? Well, the truth of the matter is this crime is growing rapidly in the U.S.
According to a study conducted by ID Analytics in 2011 about 500,000 children under 18 years of age had their ID stolen by their parents. The study also showed that approximately 2 million elderly parents were victimized by their adult children. Compared to the last three years, this crime is up by 47%.
Family fraud occurs when a family member or close friend steals your identity and misuses it in his/her own personal interest. There are three main reasons why this crime is on the rise:
- The targeted identity is much easier to steal (easy access);
- The thief knows a lot of information about the person so it is easier to accomplish; and
- Thieves believe they are insulated from prosecution – as family members are rarely cooperative with police.
An example of this is parents who need large loans. Their credit is wrecked so they wind up stealing their 18 year old’s identity to amass funds for it. Yes, this is a real life example unfortunately. When stated income loans were commonly accepted, this was even more popular. For the parents it seems to be a good way to help the family. Their children remain clueless until they apply for a student credit card in college and their application gets rejected because of the theft. Then they are left with a financial, social, and moral problem.
However, when it comes to family fraud, children are not the only victims. Many senior citizens around the ages of 60 to 80 are also victimized by their adult children. Since the elderly are often vulnerable and dependent on their children, it becomes easier for the latter to access their personal information and steal their identities.
Protecting your Identity
After looking at the family fraud statistics, you may feel worried — even among your family members. This is unfortunate but it’s a fact. You can either deny it or focus on ways to prevent it from happening to you.
What Do I Do??
Many people take on credit monitoring services for ID protection but unfortunately such services only inform you about the crime once it has been committed. They do nothing to put blocks in place to prevent this. They also commonly “assist you” in cleaning up the mess but they do not do it for you. The average victim spends 331 hours trying to clean up the mess left behind. Do you have 331 hours to spend on this? No. Of course not. So do you want to hire a service that does all the work for you and doesn’t show you how? No thanks! In addition, almost all the companies out there only protect you from financial ID theft. That sector represents 51% of ID theft. There is also:
- Medical ID Theft
- Child and Elderly ID Theft
- Tax Fraud (filing fake tax returns, etc.)
- Benefits Fraud
- Criminal ID Theft (getting arrested in your name)
- Employment Fraud (a felon or an illegal getting a job in your name)
- Social Security Fraud (yes, they will start to collect your benefits)
- Family Fraud
What is your monitoring service going to do about most of these? I can tell you — nothing. Make sure you get a service that (1) prevents (not monitors) identity theft and (2) covers ALL ID theft events; not just half of them. Maybe you are not sure what they provide (understandably, as many companies blur the lines). Many provide little to no protection. Put them to the test: Ask them these four questions:
(1) Do you hire an attorney for me from Day One? In order to ensure preventative services are provided (fraud alerts, credit freezes, extended fraud alerts, credit reports, etc.) they must hire an attorney for you, to act as your personal representative. That is the law. Don’t settle for “we’ll show you how to do it.” No, that is their job. If they say NO, move on. They are really just a monitoring service pretending to be a prevention service. Again, be wary of any company touting monitoring as their primary service.
(2) Do you ensure that fraud alerts are put on my accounts every 90 days? This is ID Theft 101. Alerts are your main tool for blocking financial ID theft. If they say NO, move on quickly.
(3) Do you protect me from ALL ID theft events (Medical, Tax, [see above])? If they do not, red flag, move on.
(4) Do you offer unlimited recovery services and assign a case worker to do ALL the work for me, if I ever get my identity stolen? The FBI reports that you will spend 331 hours trying to clean up the mess that ID theft leaves behind. You do not have time for that. That is their job. If they do not assign a case worker who does ALL (not part) of the work for you, move on.
You need a service that not just monitors and informs but also prevents the crime from happening in the first place. This calls for registering with a reliable and a trusted identity theft protection company. Do your research and get the most for your money. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Provided by keepmyID.org