Everybody has good times and bad times, but the bad times can feel very overwhelming – and people sometimes take desperate actions that they know are wrong at the time. That includes “borrowing” a child’s identity to obtain credit or something else in their name. This is actually a type of fraud, although many parents may not think of it this way.
It’s largely a crime of opportunity. Most parents wouldn’t consider trolling the dark web or rifling through someone’s wallet to obtain the information they need to commit identity theft – but they have everything at hand that they need to impersonate their own child.
Why do parents do this?
Sometimes, parents steal a child’s identity because they’re in some kind of legal trouble. Maybe they lost their driver’s license due to a drunk driving conviction, so they figured out a way to get a new one using their child’s Social Security Number (SSN). Or, maybe they have a substance abuse problem and they’re simply trying to feed their addiction.
Most of the time, however, desperation drives this kind of fraud. For example:
- A single father can’t get the electricity or heat in their new home turned on because they have an outstanding bill with the utility company, so they use their child’s identity to set up a new account.
- A recently divorced mother’s car dies, but her credit isn’t good enough to qualify for a new car loan, so she buys one in her child’s name.
- Both parents have massive amounts of existing credit card debt in default and their fridge or stove breaks down and they can’t qualify for a payment plan in their own names.
This kind of identity theft can come to light once the child in the situation eventually applies for their own credit, car loan or mortgage. That can and does result in identity theft charges against their parents. Additional fraud charges are also possible.
If you made a mistake in the past and borrowed your child’s identity because you weren’t thinking clearly or felt driven by need, find out what you can do to minimize the fallout of charges on your future.