Untangling Identity Theft

Tom has a stepson about to turn 18. He has reason to believe his stepson's father used his stepson's name in identity theft. Dave tells Tom to check his stepson's credit report first.

QUESTION: Tom in Charleston has a stepson about to turn 18. He has reason to believe his stepson's father used his stepson’s name in identity theft. Dave tells Tom to check his stepson’s credit report first and then outlines the steps to take care of the mess if there is one.

ANSWER: Just go online and pull his credit. Just go to the websites. The websites will let you pull it. I pulled it on my kids when they were minors.

There are three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. When you go to those three, you’ll be able to pull his credit at each one of them. Just see if there’s anything showing up. If there is, you need to file a police report in the locale where the offense occurred. Let’s say he used cable in Charleston, South Carolina, and opened a cable bill falsely. Then you need to file a police report there and turn him in. They won’t do anything, but you have to have the police report to then go to the cable place and say, “This is apparently my father, who was not my parental guardian, who used my identity—stole my identity. Here’s the police report to that effect. You need to take my name off this account.” He’s going to have to go through item by item once he discovers them and clean them up.

Unless you have an idea where it occurred and you just start calling… If you know where the guy lived and you called the utility and give the kid’s name, and say, “Have you got an account in this name?” Or just have the kid call and say, “This is John Smith. I want to check on my account with you guys.” See if one pops up. If he thinks he knows where it occurred, you could just do some fishing expeditions that way. That could take an awfully long time if you checked every city in America.

More than anything else, that’ll be his credit bureau report, and make sure he’s clear there. If you want to beat the bushes a little bit, you can check it out that way.