Take these steps when a minor's identity is stolen
Clearing fraud from credit report, keeping collectors at bay will take legwork
By Tanisha Warner
Tanisha Warner is the communications manager for Money Management International, where she manages educational content designed to teach consumers about personal finance topics. She writes "Credit Care," a weekly reader Q&A about debt issues, for CreditCards.com.
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Dear Credit Care,
credit card was issued in my name when I was 16. I never applied for it or used
it. I have been harassed and my credit score was damaged before I was 18. I
told them it was fraud, but they never fixed anything, and they sold it to
another collector. They also failed to tell me that the fraud didn't go through
and said that I was 20 when I was 16 at the time. Can I sue them for
defamation, injury to credit report, stress, harassment? -- Autumn
am sorry to hear about your identity theft problems. Unfortunately, you are not
alone. Theft of children's identities is increasing and is difficult to detect
before tremendous damage has already taken place to the child's credit. Many
children do not know their identities have been stolen until they become adults
and apply for credit or attempt to rent an apartment or open a bank account.
can certainly consider contacting an attorney to verify your rights regarding
the fraudulent account. Your attorney can perform all the steps outlined below
on your behalf, if you choose, and inform you if you have rights to sue the
you have not filed a police report to give details of the identity theft, start
there. Some states do not have specific identity theft laws, but your local
police station should be willing to take your report with some insistence on
your part. The Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Affidavit is a great tool to use. If you know the person who applied for the credit card
in your name and are not comfortable filing a police report, you can proceed
without one; it is just faster and simpler if you file a report with the
you have the police report or the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, you will need
to contact the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
If you haven't already done so, get free copies of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Next,
dispute the fraudulent account(s) with the bureaus as identity theft and send a
copy of your police report and/or affidavit to have the account removed from
your reports. You also have the option to place a fraud alert on your report or
even do a credit freeze to help prevent any future fraudulent accounts.
stop any future harassment from the collection agency, you will need to get
some information from them. What you want to know is the original creditor's
information, the date the account was first opened and what is required by the
collector to prove that the account was opened fraudulently. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that a collector must disclose the original creditor's
information when attempting to collect a debt. In addition, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that once an account has been proven fraudulent, the
collection agency must remove the inaccurate information from the credit
the original creditor's fraud department, let them know that the account was
opened as a result of identity theft and request that they send you the
application for the account. Also, determine what the creditor requires to have
your name and personal identification information removed from the account. Keep
good records of everyone you speak with regarding the fraudulent account
and send all correspondence certified mail, return receipt requested. A great
resource you can visit is IDTheftCenter.org.
your credit with care!
Tanisha Warner is the communications manager for Money Management International, the largest nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency in the United States. She manages educational content designed to teach consumers about personal finance topics. You can find more money management advice on Blogging for Change and MMI's Facebook page.
Credit Care answers a question about a debt or credit issue from a CreditCards.com reader each week.
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Published: January 3, 2012