Providing Services for Child Victims of Identity Theft
Linda Foley, Paula Pierce  -  2009/7/8
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
Particularly interested in foster children and delinquent youth identity theft. Recommendations for state legislation on this? Suggestions for state child welfare and juvenile justice agencies?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 Mark, I am sorry I don't. If anyone has information please forward it to me so I can post it.
 
2.  Mark Feller
 Do you know of any other states that may have passed or are in the process of considering similar laws regarding children in out of home care?
 
3.  Paula Pierce
 I agree with Linda's suggestion 100%. Also, at the federal level, I would like to see a rulemaking at Social Security making it easier for child victims to get a new SSN.
 
4.  Linda Foley
 In California a law was crafted to help transitioning foster children: Welfare & Institutions Code 10618.6. When the child turns 16 the three credit reports are pulled to see if a report exists. If none does, they put a suppression order on it until they turn 18, similar to a freeze. If a credit report is found, then the state will work with the various counties and Department of Social Services to help clear the record. That implementation procedure is being designed now.
 
 
Do you think fraud alerts are good for children as a proactive tool, even if there are no problems?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 You cant put a fraud alert on a report that doesnt exist, just as you cannot get a college transcript from a college you didnt attend. A child should not have a report unless someone has started to apply for credit using that child's social security number. That first application for credit starts a credit file in the CRAs database that eventually leads to a report.As a reminder: The three credit reporting agencies do not recommend that you automatically check your child's credit report annually, unless you have an indication of a problem. To just order reports unnecessarily actually confuses the computerized systems of the credit reporting agencies and opens a door to thieves because it could establish a credit report. ITRC agrees with this recommendation.
 
 
In the case of a child that has just turned 18 years of age--after filing a police report, is it necessary to send a copy of the report to all three credit bureaus so that the identity theft does not ruin the victim's credit?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 Yes. If the 18 year old is filing a police report, the child's credit has probably already been ruined by the identity thief. It is necessary to send the police report to all three credit bureaus in order to clear the 18 year old's credit. But first, try to obtain a copy of the credit report so that you will know what to dispute. Then, send the police report, a copy of the victim's government issued ID card, and an ID theft affidavit (if not included in the police report) along with a letter instructing the credit bureau to block the items related to ID theft and to notify the businesses that issued credit to the thief. The easiest way to get an ID theft affidavit is to go to the FTC website: www.ftc.gov/idtheft and make an online complaint. Print the complaint, sign it in front of a notary, and you have an ID theft affidavit. Note that once the businesses that issued credit to the thief receive notice of the ID theft from the credit bureau, they are prevented from placing the account with a debt collector.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 This assumes that there is proof of a crime without the credit reports. Before reporting to the police, it is best to gather all information. In child identity theft, time is not essential, unless there is a specific problem that needs immediate help. We recommend getting the credit reports first, filing a police report, then following through as needed based on the situation. Be sure to send out all letters certified return receipt requested.
 
 
If an identity theft victim is intimidated by a collection agent and through the intimidation forces the victim to make a payment on an account that was fraudulently opened,is there an option for the victim to get that money returned once it was established that it wasn't the victim's responsibility to repay the debt.
 
1.  Cecelia Swainst
 Thank you for your response. It is very helpful. I also wanted to mention that the Identity Theft Resouce agency is a great program and I couldn't have successfully assisted victims without their wealth of knowledge, specifically Mr. Jay Foley.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 First: The FTC would be very interested in any collection agency that has taken money from a documented victim. They dont want to be on the FTC BAD APPLE list. Second: A child could not owe money since they cannot enter into a contract. Therefore, if a parent or someone related to that child was intimidated into paying money, they should talk with the legal department of that collection agency, tell them which agent (name) intimidated them, request a refund of the money and a clearance of the case. They should also get a letter of clearance from any creditor or collection agency once the procedure is completed. Third: Harassment is covered in Section 806 of the FDCPA. Unfair Practices under Section 808 sub 1, covers the unfair means to collect a debt including the collection of any amount unless such amount is authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law. If the child is a minor, the agreement is null since minors cannot enter into agreements. You can read a copy of the law on the FTC website or Google the FDCPA. It also spells out your civil rights if a collection agency violates the law. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act the collection agency should stop all collections for at least 30 days for an investigation. Fourth: If you are talking about an adult victim, again, the adult person is a victim. Climb the corporate ladder to legal or to the owner and explain the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits intimidation. Explain what was said to you or how they intimidated you and if possible name names. Once you report you are a victim, and send a copy of a police report or even the FTC fraud affidavit that has been stamped by a police agency, that should automatically start an investigation. Keep a record of everyone you speak to over the phone. Names and (if possible) position in company so that you can cite them if you need to talk to a higher up in the company. As well as keep all paperwork that you may receive and copies of everything you send out. This includes all letters, the original police report, your credit reports, the signatures from the Certified Return Receipt Mail and all receipts from when you purchase anything pertaining to your identity theft.
 
3.  Paula Pierce
 Legally, yes, the victim would have a right to return of the money that he was fraudulently induced to pay -- especially if the debt was incurred when the victim was a minor and not legally able to make a contract. Unfortunately, the use of intimidation and threats is a common practice among debt collectors. The use of intimidation in collection of a bill violates both federal law and the consumer protection laws of most states and is enforceable by private right of action (aka lawsuit) -- which means that the victim can sue the bad debt collector to get the money back. However, in practice, it is difficult to get an attorney to file a lawsuit for such a small amount of money because the cost of going to court ends up being more than the money able to be returned. This leaves the victim with the option of filing suit pro se in small claims court. Some of the Lawhelp websites (www.lawhelp.org) have instructions and form pleadings for doing this. But, many people believe the time, money, and hassle involved outweigh the effort of using the courts in such a case. So, as a practical matter, for many victims the money is gone. What is worse, though, is that the creditors and credit bureaus will resist clearing the victim's credit because they will use the fact that the victim made a payment to say that the debt was genuine. It takes a great deal of persistence to remedy this, and sometimes we have ended up in court on them.
 
 
What steps can parents take to monitor their minor children's credit history during their childhood to insure the child's SSN has not been used in identity theft?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 You cannot monitor a credit history since none should exist. Here are some tips: 1. Dont carry your childs Social Security card or number in your wallet or purse on a daily basis. 2. If asked for the SSN--Ask why they want the SSN and what will happen if you dont provide it. 3. Teach your children not to provide SSNs to anyone under any circumstance. If they are going to college, look for a college that does not use the SSN as the student id number. 4. Have a locked mailbox and send all sensitive mail from the post office5. RED FLAGS 1.Calls from collection agencies, bills or credit cards sent to your home in your childs name.Pre-approved credit card offers if your child never had a bank account. However, this could also be just an innocent marketing tool sent because you opened a college fund for your child. Sometimes banks put all customers on marketing lists despite their age. We recommend that you opt out of all marketing lists with the bank when you open an account. This will reduce those pre-approved credit card offers. 2. When your childs name is listed on the caller id for another persons house. For instance, your child calls from the other parents home or from their grandparents home. That means the account holder name on the phone account is in the childs name.For more information go to: http://www.idtheftcenter.org/artman2/publish/v_fact_sheets/Fact_Sheet_120b_A_Guide_for_Parents_-_Child_Identity_Theft_Indicators.shtml
 
2.  Paula Pierce
 The best thing is to be alert! If the child starts getting pre-approved credit card offers before entering high school or getting a bank account, if the child receives mail from bill collectors or creditors, or if the child starts receiving phone calls from bill collectors or creditors, then request a credit report under the child's SSN. There is a conflict among experts about whether or not a parent should try to order a child's credit report as a preventive measure. Some experts say a parent should order a child's credit report every year or every 6 months. Usually, this is the position of people affiliated with credit or identity monitoring services who are interested in selling their product. Other experts warn against getting a child's credit report unless you suspect identity theft because you don't want to inadvertently create a report that should not exist. This can happen because one part of a person's credit report shows the names and addresses of entities that requested the report. Credit bureaus will say that they do not create a credit report based on an inquiry alone -- it is supposed to be created when a person first uses credit, but it has happened.
 
 
At what age is identity theft most likely to occur for children? And what is the statistic for child identity theft in the Ohio?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 Interestingly, at any age. The FTC does not break down child ID theft -- just 0-18. But, there was a study done by Javelin Research in 2008 that found that about 12 of victims were under age 5 and that the risk increases as the child ages.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 In 2008, ITRC conducted its 6th Identity Theft: The Aftermath study. In 2008, of those who were reporting about child identity theft cases, 10 of the respondents indicated that one, both or a step parent was the thief, down substantially from the 47 reported in 2007. As to the age of the victim when the crime first began, 17 were under 12 months old. This is nearly double the 9 reported in 2007. It should be noted that in many cases child identity theft crimes may not be discovered until years later. I dont have a stat specifically for Ohio.
 
 
Do you have any examples of minors who were either victims or suspects of ID theft while the suspect in the case was missing or listed as a run-a-way? Kids whom are chronic runaways are known to assume other identities of others who are 18 or over in order to avoid discovery by law enforcement. Typically, these cases occur when a minor runs away and becomes involved in prostitution. Any recommendations for parents and or care givers to check the names of minor for criminal history and record check. Minors stopped by police have given false names during truancy and curfew citations. Without ID, some are issued citations under their friendís names, which does not come to light until years later for the victim.
 
1.  Linda Foley
 ITRC recommended a law in California that if a person is given a citation for a misdemeanor, and has no ID, that a fingerprint be placed on the officer's copy of the citation. They voted it down due to budget issues. Truth be told- most police have ink pads with them already and the cost is negligible.
 
2.  Paula Pierce
 It's a huge problem. Not just with runaways but with what I call traveling kids who are not fleeing from abuse or from home but who are emancipated by reason of age and who are not ready to settle down. There are some good articles on the web about these kids in cities like Portland. They freely exchange IDs -- sometimes with permission. Usually, this manifests itself in criminal ID theft since these kids are not seeking credit. Criminal ID theft is horrendously difficult to clear up on a good day, but for these kids it is complicated by the fact that many have criminal records of their own. The truancy and curfew citations are less likely to do permanent harm than the felonies, prostitution, and drug related crimes.I think instances of criminal ID theft would go down if police officers had to take someone in when they make a stop and the person denies having an ID on them. Most of the time, a ticket is issued just believing the person is who he says he is. This makes criminal ID theft too easy to commit. On the other hand, requiring police to bring someone in instead of writing a citation puts an additional burden on law enforcement.
 
3.  Linda Foley
 You are bringing up the topic of criminal identity theft and it happens to adults also- the imposter gives the name of a friend instead of their own. A warrant will be issued and the victim will find out during a traffic stop or at an airport.We know that it is easy to buy identities. Information trafficking is going to be hard to stop. As to the prostitution, we have to depend on law enforcement to control this and then find out where the identities were being bought.
 
 
Any recommendation for the public to have their children's name run for a criminal want/warrant check? All of the ID monitoring services only check credit issues, they don't tell you if someone has been issued a citation under your name. Do you have any specific cases that have involved foster care youth who have fell victim to ID theft? Do you have any recommendations on how County Child Protection Agencies should address ID theft prevention with minors who are in permanent foster case settings? Specifically, can you spotlight any ID theft education programs that are currently in place in County Child Protection agencies?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 I have not personally handled a case for a foster child victim; however, I have represented other child victims. One of our child ID theft victims was just profiled (as a victim - not the bad guy) on America's Most Wanted. For a fee, one can run one's own criminal history record either through your state's criminal history database or through a commercial service. And, if you suspect criminal activity, it's a good idea. Most criminal ID theft victims find out about the crime when they are arrested for a crime they did not commit or when they are denied employment based on a criminal background check.With minors -- a lot of the time, the thief is a relative. I think it would be a big help if Child Protection Agencies were trained in how to spot identity theft red flags so that a court order could address the ID theft as part of the conservatorship process. I think it would also be helpful to provide information to foster parents during training. I do not know of any such programs currently in existence. We have had CPS caseworkers attend our trainings on their own time.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 I would think a parent could run a background check via a consumer report program like choicetrust.com The best news to get is there is NO report. A background report is a consumer report and therefore under the same regulations as credit reports.
 
 
Are you aware of any Counties that run a credit check on minors before they leave foster care to see if they have been a unknowing victim of ID theft. Have any studies been done on children in foster care who have been victim of ID theft? Do colleges run credit checks on students prior to admission to college? While it may seem as an invasion of privacy to some, I can see where it would alert a victim if they were unaware if they have become a victim without their knowledge.
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 I am not aware of any. However, states are becoming aware of the need. Like Linda, I wish all states would require it.Colleges do not necessarily run credit checks on students who have been accepted UNLESS they have applied for financial aid -- in which case a credit check is done. This is how many victims learn about the identity theft.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 In California a law was crafted to help transitioning foster children: Welfare & Institutions Code 10618.6. When the child turns 16 the three credit reports are pulled to see if a report exists. If none does, they put a suppression order on it until they turn 18, similar to a freeze. If a credit report is found, then the state will work with the various counties and Department of Social Services to help clear the record. That implementation procedure is being designed now.
 
 
Have any of the credit monitoring companies created any special ID theft programs dealing with ID theft and minors? Do you have any websites and or resources that deal specifically with ID theft of minors? Any recommendations for parents whose children are about to turn 18 years of age, and want to make sure their child is going into the world with a "clean slate" (at least for that moment in time). Can a parent, and or care giver (foster care) have a child's name run for a credit check? How long does it take? Is it any more complicated than what is the current system for a adult to get their credit history?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 Yes, ITRC is aware that programs are being developed. Probably you'll hear about them later this year or in 2010.
 
 
If child identity theft has occurred and the damage is significant, how difficult is it for a parent to obtain a new social security number for the child?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 I agree with Paula. Get to a supervisor, don't talk with a clerk. They don't know what you are talking about. Find someone in the office with authority and training in identity theft.
 
2.  Paula Pierce
 It literally depends on your local Social Security office. The Social Security Administration generally frowns upon the issuance of a new SSN. However, they will issue a new number in cases of extreme hardship. Just within Texas, I have seen cases where just about anyone would agree that the child needs a new SSN, yet SSA resisted. I have also had clients that had no problem getting a new SSN issued.I believe that the failure to issue a new SSN to an ID theft victim should be an appealable decision. So, in one of those cases where it was just obvious that the child needs a new SSN, the victim's mother asked for a written denial so that we could appeal the ruling, and they got the new SSN.
 
3.  Linda Foley
 Only if the imposter is unknown, and there is little or no chance that they will find out the new number, the family could apply for a new SSN for the child. The SSA will decide if enough substantial abuse of the number has occurred. If so, they will issue a new number. ITRC only recommends this for children under 17 since they do not have a work history, professional degrees, college degrees and such that can be difficult to change. If the imposter is someone such as a non-custodial parent, and has legal right to access the number, a freeze would be a better choice. For adults changing the SSN is a arduous task and ITRC would be happy to help advocates decide if this is the right choice.
 
 
How do you help those in their late teens and over 20 if they found out they were a victim of child identity theft when they were younger?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 Follow the same steps you would take with an adult victim; however, every time you contact a credit bureau or creditor, point out that the accounts were opened or used at a time when the victim was a child and legally unable to make a contract. That said, each case is unique. I tend to follow a threefold path: #1 stop the abuse by closing accounts (at this point also get a fraud alert and a credit report so that you can identify accounts that you may not know about); #2 make a police report to local law enforcement where the victim lives and a complaint to FTC which should be printed and signed in front of a notary to become an ID theft affidavit; #3 make formal written disputes to both credit bureaus and creditors. From this point, you have to proceed with each case individually as each tends to be unique. For instance, you may need to report to other state or federal agencies such as agencies in your state that regulate foster parents.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 Suzanne, these cases need gentle handling. They need support from advocates. This is not a one-call case. In some cases you need to inform them of their options (with a police report they can resolve the case and clear their report) and then let them think it over. Push gently but let them know you are there to support them whatever they choose to do or to answer any other questions. These are very fragile victims and must be treated like onion skin paper. They are getting pressure from a lot of people- some negative and some positive. You need to be the one sounding block that is not pressuring (you are but it cant sound like it) and are supportive without any bias.In the 2008 ITRC Identity Theft: The Aftermath study we found 52 were torn over what to do, 21 had family members torn over what to do, 11 had family in denial, and some say family will turn against them if action taken. I feel strongly that the theft and use of an innocent childs identity for fraudulent purposes is exploitive and cruel. Victims of identity theft need to be able to count on the family members for support. Enabling criminals or covering up their misdeeds due to embarrassment is not acceptable. The embarrassment is turning your back on an innocent family member who may pay for this crime the rest of his/her life. Please go to the ITRC website and read Fact Sheet 115 on familial identity theft and Fact Sheet 120 on Child Identity Theft. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/artman2/publish/v_fact_sheets/Fact_Sheet_120.shtml and http://www.idtheftcenter.org/artman2/publish/v_templates/Letter_Form_120.shtml
 
 
How do kids over 18 typically find out they were victims when they were younger?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 The list is endless, but a typical situation occurs when a college bound child applies for student loans. This can be devastating because the child may be denied admission to school until the credit report is cleaned up.Children who are entering the work force usually find out when they are denied credit or a job or public benefits. Or, when they are denied their first driver's license because of warrants incurred by the impostor.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 They are denied credit, a loan, tenancy, a job, get a collection notice, find out they already have a cell phone with that company. The list goes on and on. It's sad, they usually find out in an adverse situation and need the help of an advocate. If a credit report points to a parent, you may be the person to break the news. I've done that. It's not a great day.
 
 
When you get a 19 year old who just found out his mother stole his identity when he was 2 and has been using it since, what are his options besides filing a police report? How do you break the news to the victim- how do they react emotionally?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 I agree with Paula. Just an FYI on emotional impact: In 2008, ITRC found more victims acknowledging short term feelings of feeling defiled (37), betrayal (60), a loss of innocence (21), and a sense of powerlessness (63). Long term emotional responses included: 30 felt unable to trust people, 4 felt suicidal, 25 were ready to give up the fight, and 10 believed that they have lost everything. The answer of family doesnt understand why Im feeling like I do is higher than ever reported (33). Also, 33 reported that those close to them dont want to understand my feelings. Almost half said family life is stressed and another 21 stated that children are also affected
 
2.  Paula Pierce
 The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that a police report be filed. We have been able to skirt that requirement in a very few cases that involved extenuating circumstances. I don't want to get my (insert name of family member) in trouble is not an extenuating circumstance. We reassure child ID theft victims that they are a victim-reporting witness when they file a police report. And, the sad fact is that police departments do not have the funding/manpower to investigate the vast majority of identity theft cases, so the probability of the police report resulting in arrest is very small -- less than 1 in our experience.Regarding breaking the news -- be as sensitive to the victim's feelings as possible, and be prepared for a strong emotional reaction. I'll plug Linda's program now. The ITRC has an excellent publication (Fact Sheet 108) on dealing with the emotional effects of ID theft. I give a copy to every victim, and I suggest that all service providers read it.The fact is that early detection is critical to the recovery process, so it is hugely important that the victim be notified as soon as possible.
 
3.  Linda Foley
 I have to say more: If they file a police report it could result in a case. What they need to understand is this: No one presses charges except the DA. The victim is not responsible for the person going to jail, the imposter is. That is a hard concept to understand. Somehow you have to softly convince them to file a police report. There is no bargaining with creditors. There is no mediation process with creditors, especially in todays economy- pay the bill or prove you are a victim of idt. Failure to do so will affect their credit score for years to come and may even affect their ability to get a job, college loan, tenancy and more. Help them make a knowledgable decision and then back them with help no matter what they decide.
 
4.  Linda Foley
 ITRC feels strongly that the theft and use of an innocent childs identity for fraudulent purposes is exploitive and cruel. Victims of identity theft need to be able to count on the family members for support. Enabling criminals or covering up their misdeeds due to embarrassment is not acceptable. The embarrassment is turning your back on an innocent family member who may pay for this crime the rest of hisher life. As to options, the reality is without a police report, the 19 year old has no rights or recourse as a victim. This will affect their credit score and life for years. You need to explain that they are not prosecuting the parent or pressing charges against the parent. The DA does that. They need that police report to help them resolve the case. Few of these cases end in an arrest, but you cannot guarantee that. The 19 year old has to decide, with your gentle help, who comes first in his/her life- mom or the 19 year old. With no police report, they just have to pay the bills.
 
 
What steps can judges and attorneys in juvenile court dependency proceedings take to assist a minor whose identity has been stolen? Here in California, legislation requires the county welfare department to request a consumer credit disclosure when a foster child turns 16 and to refer the child to a credit counseling organization if there is any indication of negative credit history or identity theft. However, it is my understanding that even these minimal steps are rarely taken. Thank you.
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 In addition to requiring credit reports, courts do have the ability to issue orders declaring that the child is a victim of identity theft. The relief has to be asked for, and juvenile courts may be hesitant to do it. However, the child could file a declaratory judgment petition in civil court -- by next friend -- requesting an order declaring the child to be a victim. Such an order is only binding on entities that are made a party to the suit. Even so, presenting a difficult creditor with such an order, even though it is not binding, can be effective.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 Maybe Paula has a good answer. It seems to vary from judge to judge. Family courts don't always see this as exploitation and need educating on why child identity theft is a problem now and later in the child's life.
 
 
What would you suggest to a parent who wants to freeze their minor childs credit files as a means of preventing Id Theft?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 It cannot be done if the child is not a victim because a credit freeze attaches to a credit report. A credit report should not exist for someone who is under 18 because they are legally able to apply for credit.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 You cannot freeze a report that doesn't exist. If they suspect identity theft, they need to get confirmation first.
 
 
If a parent suspects their minor child is a victim, can they place the initial 90 day fraud alert directly through the credit bureaus automated telephone system OR must they request it in writing along with proof of who they are?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 In my experience, a fraud alert for a child must be requested in writing because the parent must verify his/her own identity and relationship to the child as well as the child's identity.If there is only a suspicion and not confirmation of ID theft, then it may not be possible to place a fraud alert since the child may not have a credit report. There are ways to confirm that an ID theft has happened without necessarily having a copy of a credit report. For example, if the child is receiving dunning letters or harassing phone calls from a debt collector. In such a case, you would want to request both a fraud alert and a copy of a credit report in the same letter.Which brings me to a helpful hint for all victims: The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus to give a victim a free credit report when the victim places a fraud alert. This is in additional right to the ability of consumers to get a free annual report from each bureau.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 If they only suspect something, and have not gotten a credit report confirmation, there may not be a report to place a fraud alert on.
 
 
Hello, I work with Parallel Justice, a collaborative pilot project in Burlington, VT. We help victims of crime immediately after an incident occurs. My questions has 2 parts: First, what are the things someone should be most concerned about when a child's soc. security card or passport is lost? How would you know if identity theft was happening? Second, what steps could a victim take to mitigate potential damage if a child's identity info is stolen? To repair damage once done? Thank you so much, Rain P.S. More info on Parallel Justice can be found at www.pjburlington.org
 
1.  OVCRC
 This training is now available! OVC developed this new e-learning tool, Identity Theft Victim Assistance Online Training: Supporting Victims' Financial and Emotional Recovery (https://www.ovcttac.gov/IdentityTheft), to provide victim advocates and other allied professionals with the tools they need to better understand and more effectively serve the numerous victims of identity theft and assist with their financial and emotional recovery. Access this online training now to obtain information about the different types of identity theft, the laws that support victims rights, and the various forms and paperwork that may need to be completed, as well as identity theft case studies and a list of resources and referral agencies.
 
2.  Paula Pierce
 What to be most concerned about: new accounts being opened using the child's information and the sale of the SSN or passport to undocumented persons to be used for employment.How to know when theft is happening: Be alert to out of the ordinary communications regarding the child, e.g., bills with child's name, harassing creditor calls or letters, letter from IRS regarding unreported taxes. Steps to mitigate damage: With regard to passport - immediately notify the State Department at 1-877-487-2778. They will flag the stolen passoport number, and hopefully, reduce thieves' ability to successfully use it. Report a stolen SS card to the SSA and to the IRS. The IRS can flag a SSN that belongs to a victim. The IRS' Identity Protection Specialized Unit can be contacted at 1-800-908-4490. For basic information about how to recover from ID theft, see our website, www.idvictim.org.Also, if you ever need to brainstorm about a case, feel free to contact me.
 
3.  Rain
 The best information about Parallel Justice is online at www.pjburlington.org, but in a nutshell, we are a collaborative pilot project between the City of Burlington's Community Justice Center, the Burlington Police Department, and the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services. Our goal is to be quick, responsive and flexible in responding to victims needs (hence my emphasis on preventative measures). We enlist local businesses to donate goods and services to victims, have a small victims fund to help victims pay for basic needs that arise as the result of crime and have a commission that addresses larger system-wide barriers that victims face. Thanks for your excellent advice, I'm writing up a cheat sheet now :)
 
4.  Linda Foley
 By the way- OVC is developing an interactive online training dealing with assisting victims of identity theft. It will incorporate much of the previous content of the OVC TTAC in-seat training on this timely subject, and is expected to be available within the next few months from www.ovcttac.gov.
 
5.  Linda Foley
 Great to hear of your program. Please send me more info at lfoley@idtheftcenter.org. If a child is young, look for the red flags discussed in Bob Sullivan's question. Of course, the card or passport needs to be replaced. Unless a credit report exists, you cannot take any proactive step such as a fraud alert yet. The CRAs are working on a plan that will help. Expect to hear more in 2009. As to repairing the damage, see our Fact Sheets on www.idtheftcenter.org. They go through the steps needed. Public entities and law enforcement groups are welcome to use the information.
 
 
Is biometric technology a viable tool to combat identity theft? If so, at what point does biometric technology cease to be a tool and become an invasion of privacy?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 The privacy people usually are concerned that any database of identifiers can be used as a one-to-many when searching for a suspect of any crime. Fingerprints at the DMV for example. If the database is limited in use, secure (as in encrypted and scattered over several servers), biometrics has potential.
 
2.  Jim Di Carlo
 Paula, your point is well taken. If a secured centralized database handles the verification process and will only compare to an actual live field sample, the margin of misuse is dramatically reduced; as compared to smart card technology which can be spoofed similar to that of a credit card. Further, this database should not be a function of government or a public outcry similar to Cook County, Illinois would be repeated.
 
3.  Jim Di Carlo
 Credit report monitoring is a reactive measure, meaning the theft has occured and the damage done before the victim is aware. The 'freeze' can be lifted at time of loan app if the thief can produce additional documentation to verify their identity. Either way, we need to take a proactive approach and I feel biometric technology is the key. Both adults and children can be protected at the point of the crime. With this thought, I am looking to seek legislation requiring government agencies and the private sector to adopt proactive measures such as biometrics. Any advise on agencies that can assist both at the state and federal levels to introduce legislation.
 
4.  Paula Pierce
 The subject of biometrics always conjures a mental image of my stepmother warning that it's a sign of the devil. There are many who for scientific, religious, and privacy rights reasons resist the use of biometrics. A simple google search yields thousands of opinions about it.Honestly, I think any identifier is subject to misuse. And, if biometrics become commonplace, it is only a matter of time before thieves figure out how to misuse them.
 
5.  Linda Foley
 Good question. ITRC has a slightly different position than privacy advocates. We want to help victims by giving tools to businesses to authenticate a person. I don't think a photo at a doctor's office or a bank is unreasonable. As to upcoming biometrics, it would need to be discussed as the tools become available. Fingerprints, by the way, cannot be taken of a newborn. You have to wait until they are about 4 months old.
 
 
How do you provide services for child victims of identity theft? what kind of program is this? Where is this program?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 Just identity theft victims- any type of identity theft, not just financial. We know them all and have several specialists for complex issues.
 
2.  Paula Pierce
 The Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of the Southwest (VICARS for short!) is a program of the Texas Legal Services Center. We receive federal funding under Grant No. 2007-VF-GX-K032 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. (And, I need to disclose that points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.) We give free assistance, including legal help, to victims of identity theft of any age or income who reside in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, or Colorado. We assist with clearing credit reports, closing accounts related to ID theft, clearing criminal histories, etc. We also represent victims in criminal court proceedings when their perpetrators are arrestedprosecuted. And, we defend identity theft victims who are sued by creditors attempting to collect accounts opened or used by identity thieves.We have a website, www.idvictim.org, that contains a victim's toolkit and other helpful publications including form letters that can be downloaded at no cost by any victim or service provider.We also provide training for service providers in our area.
 
3.  Randi Rosen
 Just identity theft victims or all victims?
 
4.  Linda Foley
 ITRC is a nonprofit based in San Diego serving a nation-wide population. We provide no-cost victim services from moment of discovery through the end of the case and provide emotional support for these potentially fragile victims. We talk then through the process step by step. Victims can email or call us at our toll-free number 888-400-5530
 
 
Is there a best practice for assisting child victims where the parent or caregiver is the perpetrator? How is this sensitive issue handled?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 In many cases, a parent/caregiver is the perpetrator. One thing you must be aware of is that identity theft is financial exploitation and triggers your duty to report child abuse in most states. BTW, the same applies to elderly victims. I handle these cases differently depending upon whether the child is living with the perpetrator or not. The child must have an adult representative -- a parent, court appointed guardian or conservator, or next friend who acts in place of the child. If the child is living with the perpetrator, it is a good idea to enlist the assistance of a child protective services caseworker (and see above -- you likely have a duty to report it).The actual mechanics of clearing the credit report are about the same as assisting an adult victim except that the child is acting through an adult next friend because the child cannot legally act on hisher own behalf.With regard to sensitivity: be genuinely concerned and understanding of the complex emotions the victim (and possibly the caregiverparent) are experiencing. The OVC-TTAC has some really good gernal materials on being sensitive to the victim's experience.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 See the answer to Suzanne. They need support from advocates. This is not a one-call case. In some cases you need to inform them of their options (with a police report they can resolve the case and clear their report) and then let them think it over. Push gently but let them know you are there to support them whatever they choose to do or to answer any other questions. These are very fragile victims and must be treated like onion skin paper. They are getting pressure from a lot of people- some negative and some positive. You need to be the one sounding block that is not pressuring (you are but it cant sound like it) and are supportive without any bias. We get about a dozen child idt cases a week and have specially trained our advocates on how to handle them.
 
 
We just received a service from a collection agency suing an individual who turned out to be a five year old child. What if it is the parents using their child's information to obtain credit?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 Identity theft among family members has become commonplace. One of the major underlying issues is the inability of businesses to help fight this battle among family members. The credit bureaus maintain files for people who have credit history, but not for those who do not - which should be every child. The void of a credible nationally recognized data source to validate minors credentials leaves businesses blind to the facts. This void means businesses may not be able to deny credit or services under many very complicated regulations without reasonable information that the identity is fraudulent. Without a data source confirming the identity credentials belong to a minor, many businesses simply create an account and require a security deposit.Frequently, parents committing identity theft are not discovered until the child is 18 years of age and begins to establish their own actual credit. In this case, if CPS knows about the situation or a person can report this to CPS, perhaps that child can be helped via a court intervention. They would need a court appointed guardian to place a freeze on the credit report and clear up all fraudulent records listed.
 
 
I work for the U. S. Postal Inspection Service and I'd like to know if you have material specific to identify theft of children's social security numbers.
 
1.  Linda Foley
 Hi Charlotte, ITRC has 3 fact sheets on child identity theft. Please see www.idtheftcenter.org and go to the 120 fact sheet series.
 
 
Is there a site individuals can go to look up their credit with out paying the fee? Many of them require credit card numbers although they wont charge it but many individuals victim to identity theft dont have credit cards
 
1.  Linda Foley
 If a person is over 18, they can get an annual credit report from the 3 CRAs for FREE as part of the FACT Act passed in 2003. You don't have to order all 3 at once, you can stagger them out over a year if you wish. www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228
 
 
Is ITRC involved with any state child welfare or juvenile justice agencies to help them address the problem of identity theft with "wards of the state" (children in custody), either preventative steps or help in responding to individual cases of theft?
 
1.  Linda Foley
 Not officially, just advising as plans are being prepared. Are you asking if we are open to discussing this with you? Yes, absolutely!
 
 
If a minor is a victim of a credit card bust out scheme (ssan#s were obtained to open up credit cards), how can we obtain the parents' contact information to inform them of this so that they can take whatever corrective action that is necessary?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 I can envision an organized criminal scheme in which minors were targeted as victims -- in which case, investigators would know the victims are minors. In that kind of case, the responsibility to locate the victims would fall on the agencies that were investigating and prosecuting the crime.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 How would you know the person is a minor? The thief would use a birthdate that shows they are over 18 and possibly a different name. This is an issue that cannot be resolved with the tools available today.
 
3.  Paula Pierce
 I would contact local law enforcement for assistance with locating the victims.
 
4.  Linda Foley
 Unfortunately, there would be no way to contact that parent. However, who opened the account? Not the minor. This is a bigger problem than just cancelling a card. I don't have a good answer for you.
 
 
Is there any hard copy information that we can distribute?
 
1.  Paula Pierce
 Yes! Download anything from our website free of charge. Go do www.idvictim.org.
 
2.  Linda Foley
 Nonprofits, governmental agencies and law enforcement can download information from the ITRC website. OVC is developing an interactive online training dealing with assisting victims of identity theft. It will incorporate much of the previous content of the OVC TTAC in-seat training on this timely subject, and is expected to be available within the next few months from www.ovcttac.gov. The FTC also has some good information in both English and Spanish.
 
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