Alleged Credit Card Fraud Culprit on the Run in Hernando

The Hernando Police Department is searching for a man who allegedly committed credit card fraud.

According to Hernando Police, the man has scammed people out of more than $13,000.

He may be driving a newer model gray Dodge Journey.

If you recognize him, call the Hernando Police Department at (662) 429-9096.

And, if you are one of his victims and need legal representation or assistance correcting the damage caused by the credit card fraud, please contact the Kittell Law Firm at (662) 298-3456.  The Kittell Law Firm is located in Hernando, Mississippi and is the only law firm in Mississippi who specializes in representing victims of identity theft and other financial fraud.

When will your child have a credit report? When should you check? When should you be worried that your child does have a credit report or his or her credit is being used illegally? These are all questions that parents should ask themselves but often do not.

Typically children do not have a credit report until they actually obtain their first credit card, car loan or other financial account that is reported to the credit bureaus. This should not be until they reach the age of majority in your state and can legally enter into contracts. Or possibly when you add them as an authorized user on your credit cards, not that I am advising that you do that!

However, children are often the victim of identity theft long before they are old enough to obtain their own credit. Oftentimes, it is the children’s own parents that are the identity thieves. A credit application appears one day bearing the child’s name. A quick application later and a credit card is issued in the child’s name. An unscrupulous parent can then make charges that never are re-paid and that do not affect the parent’s credit report.

And it does not have to be a parent that commits the crime. Children can be the victims of identity thieves that are complete strangers. Or they can be “merged” with another adult consumer whose name, Social Security number or other personal identifiers are similar to your child’s. While the credit bureaus should never allow this to happen by simply complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it does happen because the credit bureaus are known to utilize faulty matching logic that allows such mergers of credit files to happen. And when it does, the adult consumer’s credit can and will land on your child’s credit report, which can cause your child to be saddled with a bad credit history before he or she even begins their adult life.

So how do you protect your child’s credit? What are the warning signs that a child has become the victim of identity theft?

You should check your child’s credit report with the big three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union). I suggest doing so when your child turns 16. At that point, the response from the credit bureaus should be that they have no file on your child. But, if there is a file, then you should obtain a copy (as the parent and guardian of your child) and confirm that no accounts have been opened in your child’s name. If there have been, dispute them to the credit bureaus, including a copy of your child’s birth certificate to prove that he or she is under age and thus not legally capable of entering into a contract to open the fraudulently opened account(s).

Should you ever check your child’s credit before their sixteenth birthday? Yes – if your child starts receiving credit card applications, collection letters, collection calls or anything indicating that they have been active in the credit arena. This could be an indication that your child’s identity has already been stolen. At that point, despite your child’s age, you should check his or her credit report and dispute anything that is not your child’s credit.

Ideally, such disputes will lead to the child’s credit reports being corrected. But, as often is the case, the credit bureaus will not perform reasonable investigations of the disputes. At that point, you should consult an attorney like me who specializes in Fair Credit Reporting Act litigation.

While perusing various articles about identity theft and other consumer issues this weekend, it became clear that age, whether young or old, does not protect consumers from being the victims of identity theft. One article I read was about how more than 1 million children had their identity stolen in 2017. ONE MILLION CHILDREN in just one year. Let that sink in for a minute.

Then another article I read was about how the oldest World War II veteran had his identity stolen recently. Richard Overton is a 112 year old veteran living in Austin, Texas. He requires around the clock medical care and, obviously, is not out making a lot of charges. But scammers stole his identity and his banking information, allowing them to make multiple withdrawals from his banking account.

Thus, consumers do not just need to protect their own identities and financial information. They also need to help protect the identities of their children and elderly parents/grandparents. How do you do this? Well, you can’t go checking your family members’ credit reports looking for fraud, since to access someone else’s credit report without their permission violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act, among other laws. But you can help your elderly parents and your minor children request and check their own credit reports. Help your elderly family members balance their bank statements and thereby watch for fraud.

Teach both your children and your parents NOT to give out their personal information to anyone that calls them and be hesitant to even give it out to people they call of not absolutely necessary for whatever they are trying to do. Scammers are notorious for pretending to be Medicare employees and tricking older Americans into giving out their Social Security Number and banking information. Minors often do not realize the potential consequences of sharing too much information, particularly online. So teach your children and parents not to give out their information!

Make sure your parents understand and know how to spot the basic internet scams, like phishing e-mails. Teach them that just because an e-mail looks like it comes from a trusted source, be careful if it asks them to log in or give out financial information. Let them know that anything originating from Nigeria is likely a scam and that no complete stranger died and left them millions.

Identity theft affects all ages. So we must do our best to educate and protect the most vulnerable amongst us. The identity thieves will not let their vulnerability stop them from becoming their next victims. So protect your kids and your parents from identity theft.