Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Newest Identity Thief: Grandma

Identity theft by relatives appears to be on the rise. One young lady was shocked to find out that her 71 year old grandmother opened a credit card in the grand-daughter's name: and did not pay the bill (See, Family Credit Card Fraud). While wrong, the difficulty of the whole matter is obvious. Who wants to put grandma in jail for fraud? Other common identity victims are children, whose parents sometimes open accounts in their names and don't pay (See The Newest Identity Thieves: Parents; All in the Family). Crime and wrong-doing in one's own family is not unheard of. After all, I just taught Gimpel v. Bolstein this week where the family ousted one relative from employment at the family farm after he embezzles some $80,000+. The thief ultimately sues on a claim that his stock is worthless in a company without a job or dividends and the court agrees (at least as to dividends or buying him out). So, stealing in one's own family . . . yes it happens.

Here though, the problem is not only might the relative have to shoulder the financial loss, but sustain damage to their credit score if they don't turn in grandma. Most card issuers require a police report in order to document the account fraud. There is definitely a heavier loss here than presented in Gimpel where the thief lost his job but was not prosecuted . . . and the family farm just lost the money. While I condemn the thieves here, card issuers have some responsibility as well for issuing cards in children's names in the first place. While card issuers have responsibility for fraud, they seem to find clever ways to shift it back to consumers (See credit card skimming).


1 comment:

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