OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Identity theft is one of the most common and frustrating crimes in the digital age. Thousands of children fall victim yearly, and have no idea they’ve been targeted.
A metro teen now fights for good credit, months away from his 17th birthday.
Anthony Sanchez is a hardworking Oklahoma teen. You’ll often find him working hard at a local burger establishment.
He hoped to sock away his hard earned money.
“A little bit of everything,” he said, describing work. “Mostly take the orders in the front.”
His mother, Yessenia, hoped to set him up at Tinker Credit Union with a bank account. But there was an issue.
“They said he had an account that was charged off – from 2014,” said Yessenia. “I explained he would’ve been 11-12.”
Turns out, years before, an account had been opened with Anthony’s Social Security number at Bank of America (BOA).
Yessenia says she filed a complaint with BOA in June.
“I gave them till December; we waited a few months,” said Yessenia. “It was still on there. So, I called them. They said, ‘Your claim was closed out.’ I said, ‘Nothing was done!'”
Unclear exaclty how, but Anthony’s Social Security was compromised as a child.
Cyber security experts say it’s all too common.
“You might not think about it, but children that are victims of identity theft, [criminals] can do with that credit anything you can do with an adult’s credit – file fraudulent taxes, apply for mortgage,” said Geoff Wilson, with Go Security Pro. “When you’re a child, and you’re a victim, this could go on for years and you might not know it.”
For Yessenia, fixing the problem is an uphill battle.
After months of inaction from Bank of America, she says she was forced to start the process over again.
The bank ultimately sent the family a letter, but addressed it to the fraudster.
“Called them back, spent three hours on the phone with seven different people, and nobody could tell me what’s going on or what we need to do to resolve this,” said Yessenia. “I’m worried, he’s 16 right now, when he turns an adult will it hurt his credit?”
So where should Yessenia and other parents start? Geoff says contact the three credit bureaus, freeze your teen’s credit and try to learn the scope of the damage.
“See if they have a credit file for your child. Essentially, most children don’t have a credit file, cause they haven’t applied for credit,” said Geoff. “Then you’ll want to file a police report with your local law enforcement agency, also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.“
Bit of good news to end on. In Your Corner contacted Bank of America.
Yessenia tells our team her complaint is now being properly handled and the credit agencies are being notified.
To check if your children have a credit report, go to www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/checking-to-see-if-your-children-have-credit-reports/.
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