Protect your identity and preserve your credit scores and ability to borrow in 2015
The numbers are staggering. More than 36 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the past five years, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Survey Report, issued in August of 2014. Even more shocking is the number of thefts by relatives. Of 9135 people surveyed who reported identity theft to the FTC, 9% said a family member was responsible.
Great tips for protecting yourself from identity theft can be found online at the USDOJ website where they outline steps you can take to protect yourself and limit the potential for future hacks of your identity. The first step is to routinely check your account activity and make sure to take advantage of the free annual credit report to review any previous inquiries and red flags.
Financial experts say parents who destroy their own finances increasingly are tempted to “borrow” their children’s good credit. As co-signers, all they need is a birth date and Social Security number, information they either know or have easy access to.
Other family “thieves” include children, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Unfortunately, the only options for victims of familial credit abuse are paying off the debt in large chunks or filing a complaint that could send your relative to jail.
Experts recommend you order a copy of your credit report annually from each of the “big three” credit reporting agencies:
Victims should request that a red flag be placed in their file to help prevent anyone else from opening fraudulent accounts.