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ITRC Fact Sheet 115B

It can be particularly traumatizing for a parent to discover their child abusing their identity.  Points to consider:

  • Identity theft is a crime that can drain your bank accounts, trust funds and retirement savings.
  • This is an opportunity to send a strong message to your child before they commit more serious crimes.
  • It is not easy to tell the police your child is the thief.  But if you don’t, who will?  Who will be the next victim? Will your child progress to more serious crimes?

Here are some of your options.  Each option has distinct ramifications.

  • File a police report.  Remember that anything that follows was a result of your child’s actions, not yours.  The police report is a necessity to help clear your records and restore your good credit and reputation.
  • Don’t file a police report pay any bills your child has charged.  Assume the debt on your credit report.  With this option, there will be consequences to you for your child’s behavior.  ITRC wants to make this very clear.  If you pay the bill, you will be seen as accepting responsibility for the debt, making it harder to dispute in the future.  Any negative marks on your credit report resulting from your child’s actions remains your responsibility and will continue to affect your credit score for a period of seven years or more.
  • Draft an agreement with your child, stating that they will pay all the bills and accept responsibility. While this agreement may be respected by you and your child, most creditors will not accept this agreement. The only acceptable agreement with most creditors is an agreement made between the creditor and your child. It is possible to contact the creditor with your child and request that the creditor make the child responsible for the debt and releasing you from responsibility.

Should you decide to take action against your child, these are the first few steps to take.

  • Place fraud alerts with the three Credit Reporting Agencies and then obtain your credit reports (ITRC Solution SN 03).
  • Once you have proof of a crime, file a police report in the jurisdiction where you live.  Make sure the police understand you will NOT change your mind and will participate in all prosecutorial matters.  The police need to know you are firm in your commitment.
  • Refer to ITRC Fact Sheet FS 100 – Financial Identity Theft and proceed as recommended.  For additional assistance and support, call the ITRC at
  • 888-400-5530 and speak with an advisor.  ITRC does not charge for assistance.

Related Resource:

ITRC Fact Sheet FS 115 – When you Personally Know the Thief


This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to