America's Money: Parents Stealing Kids' Identities in Alarming Trend

When this paperwork is complete, send a copy to the three credit agencies with a letter telling them what information is fraudulent.

Monitor your credit reports regularly to make sure no further fraud is occuring.

Finally, contact the fraud investigator at the credit card companies and deliquent creditors on your credit report so they can open up their own investigations.

Even if the perpetrator is a family member, the worst thing you can do is nothing, since bad credit can hurt you for years.

Web Extra Takeaway

Are there any red flags that a parent should look out for if they suspect a relative is using their children's identity?

Over 50 percent of identity theft victims do not know how their information was compromised. However, there are red flags that you can look for to make sure your child is not victimized by others. Some common signs include calls from collection agencies for your child, receiving pre-approved credit card offers in your kid's name, and getting bills in your child's name. If you see any of these red flags, you should follow the steps we have already talked about.

Should you change your Social Security number?

One of your first impulses might be to change your social security number, but the benefits and costs depend on what stage of life you are in. If you are young and do not have much of an established credit history, then it might make sense to change your Social Security number. However, before changing your number, you should check with your school to ensure your student records will not be wiped out.

If you are any older, you may want to rethink changing your number. When you get a new Social Security number you actually wipe out your past credit history -- good and bad -- which could prevent you from getting a loan, opening a bank account, or even getting a job. So if you have an extensive credit history, it is not a good idea to change your number.

The process for changing your number is quite complex and the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually discourages it. In order to get a new number you have to prove to the SSA that you have been "disadvantaged by Social Security misuse." This means that you have had financial or personal hardships in the last year because of the misuse of your Social Security number.

If you would like to change your Social security number then you should go to the Social Security Administration website at www.ssa.gov.

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