Written By: Axton Betz-Hamilton
In 2017, more than one million children became identity theft victims. Many perpetrators of child identity theft are parents, but there are limited data on these perpetrators. The purpose of this study was to understand parental perpetrators of child identity theft through the experiences of victims. Using a phenomenological approach, six adult victims of child identity theft engaged in in-depth interviews. Findings revealed perpetrators were perceived to lack guilt, be manipulative of their victim, and concerned about their public image. Victims often utilized a credit report to understand the scope of the identity theft and begin recovery. Federal agencies and creditors were contacted by victims as part of the recovery process, but were perceived as unhelpful. Implications for financial counseling and education are discussed, including the ethical boundaries of financial counselors and educators when working with victims who experience significant mental and/or physical health challenges as a result of the victimization.