If your identity has been compromised, the first thought is often of cybercriminals. While many identity thefts and fraud issues can trace back to these types of crimes, there is another very common way to become the victim of financial fraud. The perpetrator is someone that you know personally. The most common instance is a significant other or an ex-spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend.
When you're in a relationship with someone, they often have open access to sensitive information. If they live in your home or spend any time in your home without you, they can easily access your social security number, financial information, and other pertinent information that can be used to open lines of credit. This isn't a new or even uncommon crime. Many victims stay quiet about the situation because they're embarrassed. It also can take victims a long time to figure out it's the significant other who is responsible for the theft.
Different Types of Identity and Credit Theft by Significant Others
This type of fraud can be devastating for the victim. Any theft is a violation but it can cause extreme emotional distress when the perpetrator is someone that you have a personal relationship with. In some cases, the significant other goes into the relationship looking for ways to steal, though that's not always true. There are scenarios where fraud is a form of revenge after a relationship has ended.
A significant other has much greater access to your information than a stranger would. This means that there can be a few different ways for them to steal. Here are a few types of theft from people you are or have been involved with:
Taking Out Loans with Your Social Security Information. This is more common than you might think. Many loans today are processed online, which makes it even more difficult to catch this kind of fraud. If the perpetrator has access to your social security number and other personal information, that can feasibly open a line of credit in your name or have you co-sign on a loan for them, which you know nothing about.
Stealing Money From Your Accounts. If they have access to your accounts, they can take money out through a direct withdrawal and by forging your signature.
Charging Items to Your Credit Card. If they have access to your physical credit card or even the information for your credit card, they can purchase items or withdraw cash.
Opening New Credit Cards. With the right information, they can open new credit cards in your name that you don't even know about until they show up on your credit report.
Stealing Your Home! This might come as quite a shock, but with the right information, they can even commit deed fraud and essentially steal your home.
Ways to Protect Your Identity from Significant Others
If you're married to someone, there are limited ways to protect your information. It's likely that they will have your social security number because it's used on things like insurance policies and other documents that a spouse will have access to legally. There are other personal items that you can keep secure from your spouse, such as passwords and personal accounts.
In dating relationships, it's best to keep your personal and financial information secure. There's no reason to grant a new significant other access to pin numbers or social security information and there's no real reason for them to ask for that information. It's best to keep these types of documents in a secure place and to password protect any devices. Financial fraud is only one possible data breach that an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend can orchestrate. Online stalking is very common and often they gain access through lax security and shared passwords.
For victims, it can be a long battle to get control of your finances. Just finding out who is responsible doesn't always fix the issue. It may take a lot of work to have your credit restored and remove your name from any fraudulent obligations.
Need Help Fixing the Damage to Your Accounts?
If your accounts were damaged by your ex-spouse or any other party, you don’t have to repair the damage alone. You can fix the problem — and fast — with help from our team at The Cardoza Law Corporation. With our free Identity Theft Repair Kit, you’ll learn all the steps you need to follow in resolving the damage that identity theft left behind. You can also call 415-802-2799 or 213-474-3338 to schedule a free phone consultation with one of our attorneys.