When your mom steals your identity

Identity theft is difficult enough without the added emotional anguish of knowing a parent used your data to get credit. If you're a victim, what do you do?

By Credit.com Oct 8, 2013 3:51PM

This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyChild 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.

Boy hiding eyes (© Ned Frisk Photography/Corbis)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.


Oct 8, 2013 5:31PM
My sister did the exact same thing to my mother.  My parents lost their life savings and beautiful home paying off all the debt she incurred in my mother's name - and of course wouldn't involved the police.  When we found out, we took over our parents' finances to stop her.  But we're pretty sure the sister turned to using her 2 kids info to get credit.  And now she also has a grandchild to start using.  Despicable human beings.
Oct 8, 2013 6:21PM
"As of Friday, the Reddit poster had told her mother to pay off the bills by Saturday, or she would involve the police."

WRONG. Never "threaten" to call the police — just CALL THE POLICE. There's no need to warn "Mom" about it first because the law itself (which Mom was breaking rampantly) WAS the warning.
Oct 8, 2013 7:02PM
get that free credit report every year. if you discover fraud, you can get on it right away, if you let it go on you will be accused of profiting from it. don't let family members get away with anything you wouldn't take from a stranger.
Oct 8, 2013 5:51PM


Why turn this into an illegal alien post? The article did not mention anything about illegal aliens and babies, it is an article about a college age adult whose mother set up a credit card with the student's knowledge. What happened after this, the mother setting up additional credit cards and using these credit cards is the crime. It has nothing to do with illegal aliens. Please don't spread your hate around.

Oct 8, 2013 9:46PM
There is so much dishonesty these days and few consequences to those who commit identity theft.  Stealing a child's identity is so despicable, it's beyond belief.  I had a friend who did exactly that.  She and her husband fell into hard times, so my friend got a credit card in her 20 something daughter's name.  When she told me what she did, I was absolutely stunned.  I would sit on the sidewalk with a tin cup before I would stoop to doing something like that.  In fact, it would never occur to me in the first place!!!
Oct 8, 2013 5:41PM
My mother doesn't even know what a computer is...and I certainly wouldn't want to steal my son's identity.
Oct 9, 2013 8:05AM
I guess I knew it was going on but I hate to see this type of crime. I worked at DSS in my State and I had a son who put his Mom in a nursing home. Prior to doing this though he secured a credit card in his Mom's name and took out $10,000, the limit it had on it and spent it for whatever. The credit card people called me to verify that the Mom was in a nursing home and all her assets were utilized to pay for her care at the nursing home.  I told the credit card people that that was the case and the Mom only got $30.00 a month for personal use.  People really stoop to a new low in this identify thief but I would report my son, daughter, or parent's to the police AS SOON AS I FOUND OUT ABOUT IDENTIFY THIEF by one of my kin.  Someone that does that isn't your kin but a user and will eventually go to jail for doing this crime.  Sometimes you have to learn your lesson or as you grow older, you find that you'll do worse things.  Maybe if you catch them young, they'll stop. As far as a parent doing it to their own child, well that's too low. But they should go to jail. That's it.
Oct 9, 2013 4:12AM
If the account is in YOUR name, can't you close it or at least freeze it ?
Oct 9, 2013 9:22AM
 The reason why most kids don't want to report the credit card abuse is because you are required to submit a police report. They don't want mom or dad to go to jail. So they try desperatly to pay it back. They usally don't so bankruptsy and ruin are the kids future. Personally I love my parents but if they did that to me they'd go to jail. Call it tough love in reverse.
Oct 9, 2013 10:32AM

What I have discovered is that once people know for certain that you will prosecute them for their behavior they generally don't pull **** on you.  They think really hard about laying a hand on you or taking what belongs to you because they FEAR the consequences.  It is only those good hearted suckers who they know won't press charges that get taken to the cleaners.


I'd file charges so fast they wouldn't know what hit them.  And I'd sleep just fine knowing they were rotting in jail.

Oct 9, 2013 12:17AM
It is difficult to prosecute your mother..  My ex's mother used his SS# for various accounts.  He couldn't get a phone, electricity or water in his name.   Yes its a crime but are you going to send your mother to jail?
Oct 8, 2013 11:26PM
guess 'mom' would find 'another kind of bar'.
Oct 9, 2013 11:10AM

Put Mom in the can!


"Remember when you would'nt let me stay up late to watch monster movies?".

"Remember when you used to make me call the plumber 'Uncle Tony'?".


HA!....10 years, see ya Mom!!

Oct 9, 2013 10:26AM
My Mom would not do well in prison!
Oct 9, 2013 4:36PM
one gets a   free credit report annually from EACH of the big three agencies. I would encourage everyone to spread this out over a year and  get one every four months, rotating the agency  go to annualcreditreport.com  and review it.
Oct 8, 2013 7:47PM
An american girl of an illegal immigrant was trying to work. She found out her SSN was already being used. It was by her mother. Her mother had her applied for SSN shipped her back to China until she was school age and has been using her SSN this entire time. She is 18 and doesn't know what to do, If she reports the mother she could go to jail because it would expose the fraud she has committed she used the SSN for job ID, food stamps, housing, and at one time welfare. 
Oct 8, 2013 8:46PM
Oct 9, 2013 12:07PM
Fortunately, my family wouldn't ever do this, but I really feel for the kid that has to clean up credit issues, due to a parent's selfishness, clean out of college.  How awful.
Oct 9, 2013 11:54AM
My sister found out that her ex and his girlfriend had stolen her identity when a deputy sheriff showed up with an arrest warrant for hot checks. Fortunately, he had a picture from the girl's driver's license, and there was no resemblance.
Oct 8, 2013 5:34PM
Think how many "illegal alien" parents used their anchor babies and their new social security number to buy houses and cars....and get credit cards.

It's in the 100,000's ......parents USING there own CHILDREN for financial gain AFTER illegally entering the USA.

How pathetic of parents who do this....

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