Home > Identity Theft > When Your Mom Steals Your Identity

Comments 0 Comments

Child identity theft is a common crime: Kids’ use of the Internet and mobile devices makes their information more accessible, and thieves are attracted to their spotless credit profiles. Sadly, parents are sometimes the perpetrators.

But what if you’re an adult, and you know your mom has stolen your identity?

That was a topic of discussion on Reddit last week. A user posted a story about how when she was in college (the poster’s gender is unclear, but let’s say it’s a woman), her mother opened a credit card in her name — with the daughter’s consent — to help pay for the daughter’s education expenses.

For the next several years (the first fraudulent account opened in 2007), the mom opened five other credit cards in her child’s name, and while the daughter knew about the first card, she found out about the others later.

Several times, the poster writes, she asked her mom to pay off the cards and give them to her, but it didn’t happen. Despite her daughter’s requests, the mom gave excuses: She has never missed a payment, she’s helping her daughter’s credit and so forth. The reason for the post was to seek advice.

What to Do With Family Fraudsters

Most people suggested that she file a police report, which is what experts recommend.

“Unless the person is willing to file a police report and list them as a suspect, the creditor is not going to shut the accounts,” said Brett Montgomery, fraud operations manager at Identity Theft 911.  “Most of the time, family members aren’t willing to do that.”

Montgomery said he’s seen similar situations of family member identity theft, and while the mom may be current on the bills now, it’s likely she won’t keep that up and will end up hurting her daughter’s credit.

As of Friday, the Reddit poster had told her mother to pay off the bills by Saturday, or she would involve the police.

When it comes to dealing with family identity theft, removing fraudulent accounts from a credit account can be tricky.

“If the creditor knows these accounts have been open for a long period of time, the creditor can say ‘How do we know you didn’t reap the benefits of this?’” Montgomery said, so when the victim knows about the ongoing fraud, it’s more difficult to fix the issue. “It’s usually all or nothing. The creditor is not going to know what they can separate out and hold responsible.”

Family or Not, It’s a Crime

These situations usually arise when a family member needs credit but has already trashed his or hers. The thread on Reddit says this mother declared bankruptcy about 10 years ago.

“It really isn’t different than a stranger doing it,” Montgomery said. “Usually the reason is just for greed and selfishness and the fact that they ruined their own credit and they can’t get anything in their own name.”

As is the case with all identity theft, consumers need to document the fraud as best as possible, and it’s crucial to review credit reports at least once a year. Everyone is entitled to a free annual credit report, and consumers can also monitor their credit for free with the Credit Report Card.

But these situations are a bit different than your average fraud. Many victims struggle with the emotional costs.

“It’s a common type of fraud that we see here, and it’s just an uglier version of it,” Montgomery said. “It’s hard explaining to the victim that you’re going to have to file a police report against your mom or your dad.”

And most of the time, they won’t.

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team