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Are Relatives Using Your Identity?
The numbers are staggering. More than 27 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 Sept. 2003. Even more shocking is the number of thefts by relatives. Of 4,057 people surveyed who reported identity theft to the FTC, 9% said a family member was responsible.

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:
Equifax 800-685-1111
Experian 888-397-3742
TransUnion 800-888-4213

Victims should request that a red flag be placed in their file to help prevent anyone else from opening fraudulent accounts.

Copyright 2004 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. All other rights reserved.

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