ITRC is proud to announce the launch of its AnyOnenationwide fundraising campaign. Due to a recent increase in consumer demand for ITRC services, the ITRC is requesting support from the public so that it may continue to provide its free services. This increase seems to be a result of heightened awareness and concern over data breaches and tax identity fraud as well as a heightened need for understanding identity theft and related issues.

“In the beginning of 2014, we read about tens of millions of Americans whose identities and personal information had been put at risk because of the malicious actions of people who committed crimes against large retailers and the individuals who shopped there.  It is a story we’ve heard all too often. But, there is hope,” said James Lee, ITRC Chairman of the Board. “The people who make up the Identity Theft Resource Center are passionate about helping individuals who find their trust has been violated by identity thieves.  Their confidence in commerce has been shaken and often their lives interrupted because their most precious possessions – their identity and reputation – have been damaged” Lee added.

Since 1999, the ITRC has been providing victim assistance and consumer education all at no cost to the general public.  With identity theft identified as the number one consumer complaint reported to the Federal Trade Commission for the last 14 years, it is obvious that the problem of identity theft is far from being resolved and is, in fact, growing.

While there are many paid services available to consumers, the ITRC is the only organization which offers one-on-one victim and consumer advice and information for free. The AnyOne3 campaign is a chance for the public to be sure these services do not disappear. The campaign will launch on April 3rd 2014 and run until June 13th, 2014.  The goal of the campaign is to raise $100,000.00 for the organization to continue its services to the public. Anyone can spread the word and donate by visiting http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.html.

“Identity theft, privacy issues, data breaches and cyber security cannot be considered fringe issues that only affect a limited number of people,” said Eva Velasquez, CEO of the ITRC.  “With one new victim of identity theft every three seconds, and more than 600 data breaches reported last year, it is critical that the ITRC continues to be available to assist victims and inform consumers.  We need financial support in order to ensure we are here to help future identity theft victims.” Velasquez added.

About the ITRC

The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized 501(c)3 charity established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft.  Visit www.idtheftcenter.org.  Victims may contact the ITRC at 888-400-5530.

Contact

Nikki Junker, Communications Manager
Nikki@idtheftcenter.org  858-444-3287

Identity theft is bad enough. When it happens to a child, it can be even worse.  Children are an especially vulnerable population to identity thieves, who consider a child’s personal identifying information (PII) more valuable than that of an adult.  Why is this you ask? It’s all a matter of usage.

As an adult, you’re more likely to be keeping tabs on your information, such as your credit reports, activity, and history, because you most likely make use of your credit acquisition ability somewhat regularly. You monitor bank statements, pay bills, shop with your credit cards, all of these things that are uniquely adult. 

A child has NO legitimate usage for their SSN in terms of finances.  They aren’t old enough to legally acquire credit, or take out loans, or even have a bank account without a parent or guardian co-signing.  What this effectively means for an identity thief is if they are able to acquire a child’s PII, they’re far more likely to have an extended period of time where they can use the information without it being picked up on by the information’s actual owner.  Whereas an adult might notice within a month that for some odd reason their credit score has dropped or the loan they were applying for was denied, most of us wouldn’t think to do this same sort of checking on a child’s information because, after all, they can’t get credit anyways…right?

The truth is that there’s no way for a lender to check on the age attached to an SSN.  All they can see is the number, the credit history, and a name.  If someone is able to successfully forge documentation and has all the right information, they will be able to acquire credit, even if the SSN is supposed to belong to a minor.  And here’s the really tricky part – by attempting to be proactive and check your child’s credit in advance, you may actually be doing more harm than good.

A person under the age of 18 who’s not a victim of identity theft will have no credit file. No credit report, no credit history, nothing. Nada.  An overly eager parent, by requesting a report, may inadvertently create one, thus making it even easier for a potential thief to take advantage.  Usually, if your child is being victimized you’ll begin receiving pre-approved credit offers for your child in the mail or other types of marketing (think store catalogs or promotional offers).  Receiving curious mailers is usually a strong indication that someone has used your child’s name and SSN to request lines of credit. If you have reason to suspect your child might be a victim of identity theft, you should take the following steps:

Write to the three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to see if there are credit reports in that child’s Social Security Number. The best news would be an answer of “there is no report.”

When you write to the agencies, place the following items in your cover letter:

  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s Social Security Number
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your relationship to the child or children in question
  • Request for a search for a credit report in the child’s Social Security Number. Remember- the imposter may be using a different name and most definitely a different birth date.
  • A copy of the credit report, if one exists, be mailed to you immediately

NOTE: A flag may be placed on the report or the report can be suppressed, if a report exists.

Please note, all correspondence must be sent certified, return receipt request. This is the only way you can prove that you sent the information. You should also include any documentation showing that you have legal custody of the child if you are divorced or have legal guardianship of the child.

Wisconsin has become one of the latest states to contemplate a child identity theft law designed to help parents and guardians protect children’s credit. Assembly Bill 248 is similar to Maryland’s child identity theft law in that it allows a parent or guardian to freeze a child’s credit if they have a credit report. Should the child not have a credit record, AB 248 would allow a parent or guardian to request that a credit record be created in their child’s name so that they can then freeze the record.

Children are coveted targets for identity thieves because their credit records are a blank slate. Credit reporting agencies do not create credit records for people until they apply for credit.  Credit reporting agencies do not verify a credit applicant’s age when receive a request for a credit record. Thus, the first

time a credit application is submitted to a credit reporting agency, the age the applicant puts down is accepted at face value. From that point on, the credit reporting agency now associates that fake age with the child’s Social Security number. This means that an identity thief can steal a child’s Social Security number, apply for credit and establish a fraudulent credit record for them, and continue to abuse the child’s identity until they finally discover the fraud when they first apply for credit, a school loan or for housing.

The effects of child identity theft can be devastating. By the time a child discovers they are a victim of identity theft they could be delinquent on mortgages, credit card debt and any other sort of financial agreement the identity thief entered into. This can result in the child having to defer attending college for years because they cannot qualify for student loans, delay moving out into their own housing because they do not pass credit checks the landlord will run, and delay obtaining their first credit card or other financial accounts due to their terrible credit. It can take years for a victim of child identity theft to restore their credit and identity, permanently setting them behind their peers as their life is put on hold while they deal with the fallout of identity theft.

This bill would help preserve a child’s credit by allowing the parent’s to create an authentic credit record for their child with the correct age and other information associated with their Social Security number and then freeze it so no credit can be obtained even when a criminal has obtained their Social Security number. AB 248 is currently being considered by the Wisconsin Assembly and recently had a public hearing on August 9, 2013. Child identity theft is a serious crime and we hope to see more states take legislative action to protect their children from identity thieves.

Wisconsin Child Identity Theft Bill” was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice, the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) remind the public there is a potential for disaster fraud in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with the recent series of tornadoes in the Midwest and South should be reported to the NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721. The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.

 

NCDF was originally established in 2005 by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute and deter fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud related to any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies – including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the FBI – participate in the NCDF, allowing the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.

In the wake of natural disasters, many individuals feel moved to contribute to victim assistance programs and organizations across the country. The Department of Justice and the FBI remind the public to apply a critical eye and do due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims. Solicitations can originate as emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls and similar methods.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
  • Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
  • Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because those files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
  • Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.

In addition to raising public awareness, the NCDF is the intake center for all disaster relief fraud. Therefore, if you observe that someone has submitted a fraudulent claim for disaster relief, or observe any other suspected fraudulent activities pertaining to the receipt of government funds as part of disaster relief or clean up, please contact the NCDF.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud by a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of hurricane victims, or if you discover fraudulent disaster relief claims submitted by a person or organization, contact the NCDF by phone at (866) 720-5721, fax at (225) 334-4707 or email at disaster@leo.gov.

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

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Teen Space

Identity theft can affect everyone, including teenagers. At this point in your life, it is important for you to recognize what personal information is, and the steps to protect it. Your information, in the wrong hands (see video below), can ‘jack your life!’

Identity theft is when someone uses your information for their gain. Thieves can use information about you, such as your social security number, to open up fraudulent credit cards, get student loans, and even get out of traffic tickets.Stop think connect

Because of this, it is important to be cautious when posting information on the Internet. This information includes your social security number, driver’s license number, state ID number, any banking information or your student ID number. This type of information should only be given out when it is absolutely necessary.