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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

Familial identity theft growing

Identity theft is a terrible crime. It's victims feel violated by someone they've never even met, who takes their personal information and pretends to be them in order to commit crimes. 

But what if that someone is a person you know? Or someone you're related to? What if it's your own parent?

A recent study looked at billions of credit applications in order to find the same Social Security number and last name, but different first names, specifically seeking out incidents of child identity theft. In the 18- to 25-year range, there were about a half million kids under 15 sharing their Social Security numbers and last names with adults who were 25 to 40 years old – which means they are likely victims of identity theft, committed by their own parents.

The same study also looked at people in their 70s and 80s who shared their Social Security number and surname with someone about 20 years younger. The study found that about 2 million senior adults are sharing a Social Security number with their adult children.

The statistics are alarming. The elderly are more vulnerable and are often dependent on caretakers who are very often their own children. The face that their trust is breached is disturbing. Even more disturbing is the fact that this crime often goes undetected for long periods of time, and when it is discovered, many parents don't want to press charges against their own children. 

If you have an elderly parent, make sure to warn them of the potential for identity theft. The elderly are often targeted for telephone scams, in which the caller asks for personal or financial information. Senior adults should never volunteer their information if they didn't initiate the call. 

Likewise, they shouldn't give their information to anyone they are unsure of. Personal and financial documents kept at home should be locked away if there is a caretaker in the home.

Published Oct 04 2011, 11:48 AM by IdentityTheft
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