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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

How Identity Theft Can Ruin a Family’s Dream Vacation

Almost every kid dreams that their parents will surprise them with a trip to Disney World. Billed as "the happiest place on Earth," the theme park is designed to bring joy to children and parents alike. On the flip side, a kid's worst nightmare is being promised a trip to the Magic Kingdom, only to later be told by mom and dad that their adventure would have to be cancelled.

This nightmare came true for the Lyles family back in 2011, when mom Stacy had to break it to her three children that their Disney trip would be scrapped because she had become the victim of identity fraud.

No matter how hard you try, thieves can find a way
The Lyles did everything they could think of to protect themselves from identity theft. David, the dad, was adamant about going to great lengths to destroy any documents that could possibly make the family vulnerable to thieves. He even would even set bank records on fire after he shredded them to make sure not a scrap fell into the wrong hands. Yet somehow, an identity thief got a hold of Stacy's Social Security number (SSN) and went on a shopping spree.

The tax refund that could go to a fun trip could end up in the hands of a stranger
The first thing the criminal did was file a fraudulent tax return in Stacy's name as an attempt to get a hefty refund. To electronically file a tax return, all the online form requires is a date of birth, a name and a SSN. From there, the money that Stacy may have received from her legitimate tax refund went into the pockets of an imposter.

If a thief severely damages your credit report, good luck booking plane tickets
The nightmare didn't end there, as the thief went on a $6,000 shopping spree at Best Buy using credit acquired under Stacy's name. To transport the goods, these criminals then rented a moving truck using Stacy's information, and abandoned it, leaving Stacy responsible for a stolen vehicle. The Lyles only found out about the theft when the police came to Stacy's home looking for the missing truck.

As protected as the Lyles thought they were from identity fraud, somehow Stacy's SSN was still compromised, destroying their family's prospects of a dream vacation. Stacy's credit score was ruined by the thieves shopping spree, and it will surely be a long time until she can finance another trip. Had the family been enrolled in a credit monitoring system, they would've been alerted to the strange activity going on in Stacy's name, and maybe stopped the thieves before the crime got so out of hand.