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Special section Child identity theft

Illegal immigrants, criminals and family members top the list of culprits.

How your child's stolen identity can be used

2. Someone with bad credit trying to establish new credit.

3. Someone within the family. Often Nos. 2 and 3 are merged.

"The older they get, it's likely an unknown perpetrator. The younger they are, it's most likely someone in their inner circle," says Linda Foley, executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization based in San Diego.

Many in law enforcement and the credit industry say the crime often goes unreported because the thief is a parent or relative. Foley says two-thirds of the child identity theft cases she deals with involve the parents.

"They may have bad credit and they want to get a utility opened up," says Diane Terry, senior director of Fraud Victim Assistance Department at TransUnion, one of the big three credit reporting agencies. "When they're successful with that they go into other things like credit card accounts. Sometimes the credit stays good and other times they don't pay."

Terry says she's talked with victims who tried to deal with their parents to resolve the problem on their own, only to find that in the end, the problem doesn't go away. That, she says, is when then they make the decision to contact law enforcement.

"It puts the person in a position of having to take legal action against their relative," says Rod Griffin, public education manager at Experian.

Terry says parents often attempt to justify their actions by claiming they were actually doing it on behalf of the children.

Robert Tavelli, president of NCCS Inc., a collection agency based in Santa Rosa, Calif., says representatives at his collection agency find out that parents and relatives will use their child's Social Security number for medical expenses and "usually the minor child doesn't find out until they turn 18. Nobody wants to prosecute a relative," he says.

4. Criminals trying to establish a new identity. Michigan authorities recently came upon a request for a replacement birth certificate for John Slapp. Good trick, considering John Slapp had been dead for 34 years.

When police investigated, they turned up Brandon Storti of Rock, Mich., a convicted sex offender. Through various means, including using the fraudulent Social Security number, Storti had obtained credit cards, a Social Security card and a driver's license in Slapp's name.

Police believe Storti was attempting to head to Oregon under the alias so he wouldn't have to register as a sex offender.

Storti pleaded guilty in early January in the Ingham County Circuit Court to one count of identity theft, a five-year felony and one count of uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony.

Create a news alert for "identity theft"
-- Posted: Jan. 3, 2007
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