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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

When Sharing With Your Sister Goes Too Far

Many sisters are forced to share everything with one another while they are growing up. Whether an older sister passes down her clothes to a younger sibling or the two girls have to share a bedroom, this relationship is often a game of give and take.

The dynamic between siblings generally tends to change as they get older and rely less and less upon hand-me-downs, and usually get places of their own. Sometimes, however, one sister will remain dependent on the other even when they are all grown up.

A simple request among family
This was the case for Abigail, a San Diego resident, whose sister, Delia, had asked her to be the main beneficiary on her life insurance policy. According to a December 2007 story from CBS News, Delia had always looked up to Abigail, and Abigail was flattered by the gesture.

Delia asked Abigail for her Social Security number (SSN) and Abigail kindly obliged, not suspecting her sister would use it to commit identity fraud. However, by sharing that information with her sister, Abigail was signing on for a battle that would eventually ruin her relationship with Delia.

A small lie has big consequences
Abigail realized her identity had been stolen when a potential landlord ran a routine credit check after Abigail applied to rent a house. Her credit report revealed that there was currently a warrant out for her arrest for not paying the utilities for a property in Maine — Delia's home state.

When Abigail inspected her credit report further, she saw that there were debts in her name from several different utility companies, as well as bank and credit accounts and purchases for items as big as hot tubs — all near where Delia lives. The victim called Maine Information and was given a phone number that was under Abigail’s name but was being used by Delia.

There's not always room for forigiveness
The dispute started off civil enough, with the two sisters talking it out and Delia apologizing to Abigail for hurting her credit score. However, when it became clear that Delia had no intention of paying Abigail back, she was forced to take Delia to court in order to receive the almost $50,000 in damages.

There may have been nothing Abigail could have done to prevent the damage that would be done to her relationship with Delia, but she may have been able to have detected the fraud earlier had she been enrolled in a credit monitoring program. This kind of service would have alerted her to any strange activity that was going on in her name that might signal identity theft, and she may have been able to get in touch with her sister before the charade got so out of hand.

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