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In February 2013, she finally learned who the thief was: her mother, who had just passed away.Betz-Hamilton and her father discovered that her mother opened fraudulent accounts in her name, her father's and grandfather's, racking up debt and unpaid taxes, and draining savings.

But it wasn't until Betz-Hamilton's father sorted through her mother's papers after her death that they discovered her mother had opened (and defaulted on) numerous fraudulent credit accounts, including those in Betz-Hamilton’s name.

If many familiar fraud cases go unreported or are reported long after they happened, yearly statistics become unreliable.

But according to Experian's Director of Public Education Rod Griffin, the effects of familiar fraud are more important than the numbers.

"We were unaware of so much because she handled all the family finances," said Betz-Hamilton, an assistant professor of consumer studies at Eastern Illinois University. If projected across the population, that figure would mean 847,000 American victims of identity theft knew their thief. "Based on my experience, it's pretty regular and it's pretty underreported," said Jennifer Peters, a certified credit counselor with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of West Georgia/East Alabama.

"She had my name and Social Security number and that's all she needed." Measuring the problem According to Javelin Research and Strategy's 2014 Identity Fraud Report, familiar fraud victims made up 0.35 percent of adult consumers in the U. "Very often [victims] know and aren't going to do anything about it." Knowing your perpetrator often makes it difficult for victims to seek legal prosecution, said Eva Velasquez, Identity Theft Resource Center CEO."This is often a crime of opportunity, and the fact is your information is simply exposed more often to those close to you rather than to complete strangers," she said.


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