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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Identity Theft High Among Family Members

From NYTimes.com: Though most victims never learn who stole their identities, half of those who do say the thief was a family member, a friend, a neighbor or an in-home employee, according to surveys by the Federal Trade Commission and Javelin Strategy and Research, a private research firm. The surveys estimate that 9 million to 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

For example, in the five years since his divorce, Eric Wagenhauser had moved on with his life. He had remarried and was sharing custody of the three children from his first marriage. Then, last year, Mr. Wagenhauser discovered a new wrinkle on American divorce: his former wife had used the children’s Social Security numbers to apply for nine credit cards in their names. She obtained two.

Identity theft involving family members takes many forms, said Betsy Broder, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s division of privacy and identity protection. A child steals a parent’s identity to buy drugs, one sibling steals another’s identity to try to avoid arrest or debt.

Identity theft is often difficult to solve and prosecute, and, in the case of families, victims may be reluctant to report relatives to the police. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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