Protecting Yourself and Your Children from Divorce Related Identity Theft

A man in Pennsylvania used his ex-wife’s identity to purchase six cars within eight months. Crazy, right?! How in the world did he get away with it? Well, he didn’t exactly, he got two years in jail.

Sadly, it’s a fact that identity theft is most often carried out by family members. It’s not that surprising though. Couples know lots of things about their partners. They also have access to bank accounts, passwords, and social security numbers. When there are kids involved, they have their information too. But, when relationships sour, it can bring out the worst in people and unfortunately ex-spouses and children can become victims in many different ways.

No matter how friendly your divorce may seem, you should till take all precautions. Separate all of your finances. Close your shared accounts. Refinance your mortgage. Open new accounts. Even consider closing non-shared accounts and starting fresh.

Too bad you can’t erase your ex’s memory of things like social security numbers. What you need to do is get into the habit of monitory you and your children’s accounts. You should also check your credit report frequently. Although minor children should not have credit reports, if their identity has been compromised there could be a report in their name. And so, you should contact the reporting agencies to find out if a report exists for your minor children.

Look for these warning signs that your child’s personal data may have been compromised:

  • They receive preapproved credit account offers.
  • They receive calls or billing statements from collection agencies, creditors or government agencies (including the IRS).
  • You are unable to open a bank account in their name because one already exists with the same  SSN.
  • They are denied credit, employment, a driver’s license or college enrollment for unknown or credit-related reasons.

If you or your child has been a victim of identity theft:

  • File a police report and keep a copy as proof of the crime.
  • Contact the fraud units at the three major credit bureaus for instructions:
    Equifax(800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion(800-680-7289).
  • Notify the Federal Trade Commission (877-438-4338), whose Ide
    ntity Theft
     site contains information on fraud alerts, credit freezes, how to work with police and much more.
  • File a complaint with the government-sponsored Internet Crime Complaint Center, which forwards cybercrime complaints to appropriate law-enforcement and regulatory agencies.
  • Contact Social Security (800-772-1213) to inquire whether anyone has reported income using your child’s SSN. You may  request a new SSN, but this can be a complicated process.
  • Contact the IRS’ Identity Protection Unit (800-980-4490).
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