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Special section Child identity theft

Start by making sure you get a police report.

Minimizing the damage

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your child becomes a victim of child identification theft. If that happens, the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit advocacy group based in San Diego, suggests these steps to take control of the damage.

1. Contact the credit issuers. Talk with fraud investigators when you do. If you're contacted by collection agencies, talk to fraud investigators there, too.

2. Keep a log. Write down the name, phone number and title of each person you speak with and a summary of the conversation.

3. Request copies. Obtain copies of all application and transaction records available so they can be provided to the police.

4. Get a police report. "The police report is what offers the victim some protection in that a victim of this crime cannot be held liable for the fraudulent charges," says Steve Frasher, spokesman for the Riverside Police Department in Riverside, Calif. "Our main duty is to assist the victim with this." 

Send the police report to the credit agencies so they can restore the credit files.

"The most powerful tool is a law enforcement report," says Diane Terry, senior director of Fraud Victim Assistance Department at TransUnion, one of the three big credit reporting agencies.

The Internal Revenue Service

You've got a problem if you hear from the IRS that:

If you discover a problem, contact the IRS immediately by phone or in writing so that tax examiners and other agencies such as the Social Security Administration can resolve the problem. 

Also know that the IRS does not initiate a request for personal taxpayer information via e-mail. Getting this request in an e-mail may be an attempt at identity theft.

You may want to get an attorney, but that will depend on who is using your information. The Identity Theft Resource Center advises that if the offender is a parent or relative, or if the situation is related to a custody or divorce issue, a family lawyer may be best.

Changing your Social Security number
If the identity was stolen at an early age, it might be a good idea to change the Social Security number because the child hasn't built a credit file, says Robert Tavelli, president of NCCS, a collection agency based in Santa Rosa, Calif.  He doesn't advise changing the number if the victim has already established credit files.

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