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Standing Strong Through Family Theft

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Sometimes having a low credit score is not your fault. If you find yourself in a situation where your family member or close friend steals your identity, you are not alone.

This happens more than you think. It’s okay to take a moment to be mad. This is different than finding out that some random stranger stole your identity. This is your family or close friend. Someone that you loved and trusted put you at financial risk, but you should keep in mind that they didn’t ruin you. You can turn your credit score around and take control of your financial life.

 

What qualifies as family theft?

  • Identity Theft of a Minor: Parents or relatives have easy access to the personal information of a child or relative since birth. However, people under the age of 18 can’t apply for any forms of credit lines including credit cards and loans. Therefore, they most likely wouldn’t find out their identity has been stolen until they are old enough to apply for credit.

  • Identity Theft of an Elderly Person: When an elderly person is dependent on another individual, their personal information is shared with the person taking care of them, especially since they have control of the elderly person’s mail and other forms of identification.

  • Identity Theft of a Spouse: Spouses have easy access to each other’s personal information, especially when you share financial accounts. If they create a new credit account without your knowledge, that counts as identity theft.

  • Identity of a Sibling: Since your brothers and sisters tend to resemble you it can be easy to portray themselves as you.

 

    Next Steps:

    Confirm your credit history.

    You can view your credit report from the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) for free. Once you obtain your credit report you will be able to see your payment history and when accounts were opened in recent years. If you identify inaccurate information, you can dispute these claims. However, creditors may require proof.

     

    Freeze your accounts.

    By freezing your account, you prevent someone from opening a new account in your name. There may be a small fee associated with opening and ending a credit freeze.  

    MoCaFi Tip: You could set up alerts on your credit reports to protect yourself from future fraud. You would have to contact each of the credit bureaus to set it up individual.

     

    Confront the person.

    It can be difficult to have these conversations, but one way to confirm your suspicions of the person behind this theft is your family member or close friend. This is your opportunity to try to talk it out and figure out which steps you want to pursue next.

     

    Set up a payment arrangement.

    By setting up a payment plan for the other person to start paying you back for the debt they accrued in your name. You can also charge interest on the debt the person owes you. However, the downside to setting up a payment arrangement is that this could be a long process since the person most likely doesn’t have the funds available to pay you back right away.

     

    Alert your creditors and banks.

    You should always keep your creditors and financial institutions aware of what is going on when it comes to fraud. This helps you in the long run because it makes them aware that your current financial state is through no fault of your own. This is especially helpful for when you ask companies to release you from any liability for their services.

     

    Report the person.

    This may be one of the toughest steps to take, however it is a necessary one. This is most likely someone you love and care about. You may feel some pressure from other family members not to report your family member to the police, but at the end of the day, they did commit a crime and this is your financial and credit history you are trying to turn around. By reporting to the police you are able to provide evidence to the credit bureaus when you dispute information on your credit report. This is also useful for when companies ask for proof that you were a victim of theft when you asked to be released from liability for their services.

     

    Build your credit history up.

    If your family member or friend has been taking your idea for years, some of the debt accumulated on your credit score may not be approved for elimination after you attempt to dispute it. Don’t worry we have some easy ways for you to improve your credit score here.