Tuesday, January 29 2013 5:09 PM EST2013-01-29 22:09:53 GMT
A man arrested following an Eyewitness News investigation faces sentencing Tuesday. Marcos Lopez was convicted of identity theft after stealing a baby's Social Security number and using it for more thanMore >>
Marcos Lopez was convicted of identity theft after stealing a baby's Social Security number and using it for more than a decade. He'll spend one year behind bars for his crime. See resources to help you protect your child's identity.More >>
Friday, November 30 2012 5:56 PM EST2012-11-30 22:56:33 GMT
An Indianapolis teenager says, "I can finally feel like myself," after police arrested a man accused of stealing his identity more than a decade ago. Detectives from IMPD and the U.S. Secret Service arrestedMore >>
The man at the center of an Eyewitness News investigation is now behind bars. Marcos Lopez is charged with identity theft for allegedly stealing a baby's Social Security number and using it for more than a decade.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:27 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:27:58 GMT
Check your ticket to see if you have the winning Powerball numbers: Tonight's $600 million jackpot is the largest jackpot in Powerball history and the second largest among U.S. Lottery jackpots. FingersMore >>
Check your ticket to see if you have the winning Powerball numbers: 10-13-14-22-52 Powerball 11More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:10:01 GMT
Ed Carpenter knew he was capable of another fast run, and it earned him the pole for the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis native bested IndyCar racing's big-name teams by claiming his first 500 poleMore >>
Ed Carpenter knew he was capable of another fast run, and it earned him the pole for the Indianapolis 500.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:14 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:14:03 GMT
A new interactive display that documents the lives and accomplishments of Indiana's politically prominent Bayh family has opened at Indiana State University. About 250 Indiana Democrats and others attendedMore >>
A new interactive display that documents the lives and accomplishments of Indiana's politically prominent Bayh family has opened at Indiana State University.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:05 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:05:05 GMT
A central Indiana official says the tough conditions opponents of a planned wind farm are seeking for the project would leave little room for the proposed power-generating wind turbines. The wind farm'sMore >>
A central Indiana official says the tough conditions opponents of a planned wind farm are seeking for the project would leave little room for the proposed power-generating wind turbines.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:00 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:00:45 GMT
A Purdue University official says the school has made fast progress finding $40 million in savings or new revenue to support a two-year tuition freeze announced in March. Purdue treasurer Al Diaz tellsMore >>
A Purdue University official says the school has made fast progress finding $40 million in savings or new revenue to support a two-year tuition freeze announced in March.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 6:45 PM EDT2013-05-18 22:45:02 GMT
Oxbow has won the Preakness, ruining Orb's bid to capture the Triple Crown. Oxbow led from start to finish. It was the sixth Preakness victory for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and 15th Triple CrownMore >>
Oxbow has won the Preakness, ruining Orb's bid to capture the Triple Crown.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 6:23 PM EDT2013-05-18 22:23:35 GMT
A new federal report says inmates at the Marion County Jail in Indianapolis are more likely to be sexually abused by guards than inmates at any other jail in the nation. The Justice department reportMore >>
A new federal report says inmates at the Marion County Jail in Indianapolis are more likely to be sexually abused by guards than inmates at any other jail in the nation.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 4:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 20:56:07 GMT
Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway meant a lot more than just racing. This was a family affair with a little bit of something for everyone for non-stop entertainment. The day's festivities startedMore >>
Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway meant a lot more than just racing. This was a family affair with a little bit of something for everyone for non-stop entertainment.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 4:03 PM EDT2013-05-18 20:03:11 GMT
It's less about the lemonade and more about the lesson. More than 20,000 local children got their first taste of the business world Saturday when they took part in Lemonade Day. The work behind JohnMore >>
It's less about the lemonade and more about the lesson.More >>
From toddlers to teenagers, hundreds of thousands of children are now victims of identity theft and, according to the Federal Trade Commission, most of their parents don't even realize it.
Angie Brackin didn't know anything was wrong until she got a phone call asking why her son, Adam, hadn't reported thousands of dollars in income from working in a factory.
"I said, 'Well, that's impossible. Adam is in school today and he's only in fourth grade,'" Brackin said.
Turns out someone had stolen Adam's social security number just months after he was born.
Documents show that someone is 38-year-old Marco Lopez. Over the past 14 years, Lopez has used Adam's social security number to rent homes and apartments, to secure jobs, to title eight different cars, and to run up thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.
A thorough credit check of Adam's social security number reveals dozens of entries under Marco Lopez – and almost no mention of Adam at all.
"It feels like I'm not even Adam anymore," he tells 13 Investigates. "It kind of scares me because it might affect my future."
The freshman at Covenant Christian High School and his mother have now spent several years trying to put an end to the identity theft, but Lopez continues to use Adam's personal information. He recently got jobs at a pizza shop and at a temporary staffing agency by providing Adam's social security number.
"This is a crime. It's illegal. It's stealing," Angie Brackin said. "I don't know how he got Adam's social security number, and who knows how much damage he's doing."
Adam is not alone.
Thousands of victims
An estimated 140,000 identity frauds are committed against minors each year, according to FTC identity protection specialist Steve Toporoff.
"Recent studies suggest child identity theft is more prevalent than even identity theft against adults," said Toporoff, an attorney in the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Children are being targeted because their credit history is nonexistent. That makes them very attractive to organized crime and other thieves."
Axton Betz was a young girl when someone stole her social security number, and she is still dealing with the aftermath two decades later.
"I was in fifth grade. I was 11 years old, and I had no idea anything was wrong," she said.
Axton realized she had a problem when she got to college and started getting court summonses and lawsuits from collection agencies. The debt collectors claimed Axton had run up huge credit card bills when she was 13 years old.
"Back then I was just a kid growing up in the Indiana countryside. I didn't think about money and credit. I didn't even have a credit card," Axton recalls.
Now, after years of trying to clean up her credit, she still gets collection calls and Axton is paying off a car loan with an 18.23% interest rate. It's the only loan she could get after someone stole her identity and trashed her credit – long before Axton was old enough to drive a car.
Officials at the Federal Trade Commission say child identity theft has only gotten worse since 13 Investigates first reported on the issue several years ago.
While many cases are committed by parents or relatives of the victims, others are perpetrated by strangers who obtain kids' social security numbers through data breaches. Police say social security numbers (for both adults and children) should be provided only when absolutely necessary and should otherwise be closely protected.
"Child identity theft really is a hidden crime," Toporoff said. "In many instances, parents would have no idea and no reason to suspect their child has been a victim until many years later when the child applies for credit. Most parents don't know what to do and children are significantly harmed."
Check your kid's credit for free
That's why you should take action now.
The FTC recommends you contact a credit bureau to see if your child has a credit file – a primary warning sign of child identity theft.
"For a child, there should be no credit file because, as a minor, you can't apply for credit," explained Steve Katz, senior director of consumer affairs at TransUnion credit bureau. "So if these [credit] accounts exist, they've most likely been established by a third party whose using that child's information, and they shouldn't be."
The nation's three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian. and TransUnion – all offer what's called a "minor credit file check" for you to investigate the status of your child's credit. The credit bureaus will conduct a file check for free. (Details and instructions below.)
"It's a very easy process. You simply go to our website … there's a secure form you can fill out and send to us. We'll respond to you very quickly if we find a credit file in your child's name and we'll provide you with the next steps," Katz said. "We have the ability to go in there and clean up that file so, in the future, any negative items will not impact the child."
TransUnion says its minor credit file checks reveal credit files on approximately 4% of children. With approximately 75 million children (ages 0-17) in the United States, that percentage represents approximately 1.5 million kids who may have improper credit activity – and possible identity theft – linked to their social security numbers. The FTC says it is important to identify potential problems early.
"Before a child reaches the age of 16, parents definitely should see if there is a credit file on their children," Toporoff recommends."That will give some time to remedy problems and to clean up the child's credit file so, by the time they reach 18, they will have a clean credit history going forward."
Struggling for justice
While the credit bureaus can help make things right, it's very tough to catch the people who've done wrong.
Axton says she has no idea who stole her identity, and tracking down the man who stole Adam's social security number has also been quite a challenge.
13 Investigates visited nine homes and apartments linked to Adam's social security number and listed as home addresses for Marco Lopez. WTHR did not find Marco living at any of those addresses. His former employers do not know Lopez's whereabouts, and messages left at his most recent phone numbers have gone unanswered.
Angie Brackin says police have not been willing to help.
"I have tried to climb every ladder, every avenue, and I have just really struggled to get anyone to help me at all with this," she said.
While WTHR continues to search for Marco, the Brackins continue to search for answers, trying to understand how someone took control of Adam's identity.
"It's happening right now," his mom said. "It's scary and it's hurtful. I don't want any other children violated."
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:40 AM EDT2013-05-18 14:40:00 GMT
Allison Jacob of Indianapolis who is a junior at Ball State University where she's majoring in Communications and Public Relations was named the 2013 500 Festival Queen on Saturday morning. She graduatedMore >>
Ball State student Allison Jacob named 2013 500 Festival Queen. More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 4:18 AM EDT2013-05-18 08:18:20 GMT
The winning numbers were drawn Friday night in the $190 million Mega Millions jackpot. The winning numbers were 11, 15, 35, 43, 49, with a MegaBall number of 41. Saturday night, numbers will be drawnMore >>
The winning numbers were 11, 15, 35, 43, 49, with a MegaBall number of 41.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 3:18 PM EDT2013-05-17 19:18:48 GMT
CeCe Bruce has received a couple of large tips in her life, but nothing like he one she got Wednesday morning. CeCe, a waitress at the Steak 'n Shake restaurant at Keystone and 54th Street, receivedMore >>
CeCe Bruce has received a couple of large tips in her career, but nothing like the one she got Wednesday morning.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 6:43 AM EDT2013-05-18 10:43:31 GMT
A car came very close to crashing into someone's home near Lawrence. It started with a brief police chase after the officer tried to pull the driver over for a traffic stop. It ended on Conreid Drive,More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 9:14 AM EDT2013-05-18 13:14:33 GMT
The son of the U.S. national swim team director is reporting that Michael Phelps is planning a comeback for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Peter Busch, whose father Frank oversees the American program, is a newsMore >>
The son of the U.S. national swim team director is reporting that Michael Phelps is planning a comeback for the 2016 Rio Olympics.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:58 PM EDT2013-05-18 17:58:30 GMT
The San Diego Chargers have agreed to a two-year deal with star pass rusher Dwight Freeney that could be worth $13.35 million. The deal to bring Freeney to the Chargers came four days after outside linebackerMore >>
The San Diego Chargers have agreed to a two-year deal with star pass rusher Dwight Freeney that could be worth $13.35 million.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:06 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:06:01 GMT
Visitors and employees of Indiana University Health will no longer be able to buy sugary drinks from cafeterias, vending machines and gift shops on hospital campuses. Indiana University Health implementedMore >>
Visitors and employees of Indiana University Health will no longer be able to buy sugary drinks from cafeterias, vending machines and gift shops on hospital campuses.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:19 PM EDT2013-05-18 17:19:05 GMT
Point guard George Hill will be a game-time decision as the Pacers try to close out the Knicks. After Indiana's shootaround Saturday morning, coach Frank Vogel did not say whether Hill had passed hisMore >>
Point guard George Hill will be a game-time decision as the Pacers try to close out the Knicks.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:13 PM EDT2013-05-18 17:13:48 GMT
A Lafayette program designed to help the homeless, victims of domestic violence and nonviolent offenders is carrying on its mission despite the loss of federal funding. Efforts started under the WeedMore >>
A Lafayette program designed to help the homeless, victims of domestic violence and nonviolent offenders is carrying on its mission despite the loss of federal funding.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 10:59 PM EDT2013-05-18 02:59:44 GMT
A mother is pleading with police and her neighbors to try and find the driver who struck her son in a hit and run crash. Daniel Lopez is in critical condition, fighting for his life at the hospital. PoliceMore >>
Police still don't know who struck seven-year-old Daniel Lopez, who remains in critical condition in a coma. More >>