Personal Finance: More on parental pilfering

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, June 24, 2010; 8:57 AM

Credit is much like family relationships: once broken, it takes a long time to repair.

For last week's Color of Money Question, I asked: "Would you rat out your mom or dad if she or he stole your identity?"

Some parents are part of a disturbing but growing trend in which they use their kids' names to do everything from get student loans to credit cards. Here are some of your responses about this type of identity theft:

Gary Moore of Vista del Lago, Calif. believes the parents should be held responsible for their pilfering.

"There is no way the parents should not suffer the consequences," he wrote. "They and everyone else must realize when their selfish behavior impacts other lives."

Monica Raymond is suffering the consequences of parental identity theft.

"My mom put the utilities in my name when I was child," Raymond said. "I always resented her for this because I felt she put my future in jeopardy and took me for granted. She was delinquent on the bills she had in my name, as she was with all her other bills. As an adult, if I wanted to put utilities in my name, I probably could not because of the unpaid bills in my name. It felt like a form of abuse and betrayal and as an adult it still hurts."

"My 25 year-old cousin recently had to go to her state's capital to clear her name because there was an outstanding warrant in her name for ticket violations," wrote Damarius Pappy of Washington, D.C. "My cousin does not have a driver's license and according to the records this person took out the driver's license when my cousin was 15 years old. She suspects that her mother, who had a serious drug problem and was imprisoned for credit card theft, may have sold her identity. Though my cousin has an estranged relationship with her mother, she will not prosecute."

Tom White of New York says, "My significant other had this issue. When he went to open his first bank account, he was turned down. Turns out his father, who has the same name, had opened multiple accounts up using his social security number. It took almost two years to get it all straightened out. He was able to show that he had never lived at the addresses in question and had been too young to ever have entered into any such agreements. It was nightmarish! At this point he has not gotten the police involved. The institutions might have chosen to do it because he showed them that they had an account opened with fraud. However, he never admitted that it was his estranged father. He just proved that he hadn't opened the accounts himself."

"This hit home," said another e-letter reader. "I have a younger brother whose father did that to him. They had the same name. One was a junior and the other a senior. His father filed bankruptcy and purchased a house in his name. His father has since passed. But, my younger brother's financial security has been compromised and he has never done anything about it. It's a shame how some people sink that low to appease their bad habits. I understand that times are hard, but it's not fair to that child who is trying to establish a life for himself or herself and can't."

In many cases, the child never turns in the parent. But Dave Frisch of Denver says he would.

"I would absolutely turn my own parents in if either or both had stolen my identity to purchase things they couldn't afford, or racked up thousands of dollars in loans for themselves," Frisch said.

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