18 and Bankrupt: Thanks for Ruining My Credit Report Mom & Dad!

Nick Fishman

Now why didn’t I see this one coming?  The Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article today about young people being denied employment after a background check reveals problems on their credit report.  What’s worse? It was their beloved parents who committed identity theft and caused the problem.  Check out this story below.

Child Identity Theft Increases– Atlanta Journal Constitution

Many face credit troubles at the hands of family members being dashed because they are unwitting victims of identity theft at the hands of someone they know, usually their parents.

It often happens when victims are too young to do anything about it, so it’s a crime that can go undetected for years.

A parent or other relative uses a child’s personal information, including Social Security number, to get a credit card, loan or other account with a clean credit record. That’s identity fraud in Georgia.

When the child enters the business and financial world as an adult, he encounters debt he knows nothing about

“They won’t be able to get a credit card. Or if the debt owed is disproportionate to their earnings, then they can’t get loans. It’s difficult to get a car,” said Michelle Jones, senior vice president of counseling for CredAbility. The Atlanta-based nonprofit, provides credit counseling and education across the Southeast.

“And when you are applying for car insurance or applying for a job, people look at your credit score. The worst case scenario … you have a young adult who is facing filing for bankruptcy on a debt that they never personally incurred,” Jones said.

The Federal Trade Commission’s figures on identity theft show Georgia ranking seventh nationwide for the highest number of complaints over the last three years. FTC breakdowns by age show about a quarter of the complaints come from 20- to 29-year-olds. But there’s no way to say how many are from parent identity theft.

Georgia Office of Consumer Affairs spokesman Bill Cloud believes cases of child identity theft have multiplied substantially in the last few years. Identity theft is a felony in Georgia.

“It’s a growing problem,” said Cloud, who said about 3 percent of identity theft victims in 2003 were children. That number increased to about 5 percent in 2006.

They do provide some advice for those who think their identity has been stolen.

  • Check credit files. Minor children shouldn’t have credit files unless their information has been pilfered.
  • Each credit bureau has its own procedure. For TransUnion: send an e-mail to childidtheft@transunion.com with relevant identifying information, and the company will confirm if it has a file. For Experian: visit www.experian.com/fraud or call 1-800-311-4769. For both these agencies and Equifax, follow these instructions on what to send to order a child’s report: bit.ly/aDFTi1
  • Adults can order their own copies from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax through www.annualcreditreport.com , the federally-created Web site that allows free reports once a year.
  • File a police report using the information from your credit reports as evidence. Victims can provide a printed copy of the Federal Trade Commission’s Universal Complaint Form to the law enforcement agency to incorporate into the police report. Find the form online: bit.ly/bN25VL
  • Call all companies or collection agencies listed on your credit report that you haven’t personally opened. Ask them to send you a copy of the application and transaction records. You must send a police report with this request.
  • If you have a police report listing all the fraudulent accounts, the credit bureaus must block the fraudulent accounts from your credit reports within 30 days.

Job seekers are also encouraged to conduct a personal background check on themselves at sites like TransparentMe.com

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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  • I’ve read about stories like this happening more and more. Although I’m not surprised. Money is tight, we don’t have any more, but hey, young Billy can take out a loan. Too bad he’s 10. LOL.

    But this is serious. I actually know a woman who this happened to. She was 19 at the time. Her parents opened up credit cards in her name and then didn’t pay the bills. It was a mess. I lent her the money to repay the debt. Needless to say, if a parent does that to their child, you don’t want their help to fix it.