Addiction sucks, and it’s broken up more marriages than I can count.

Gambling is the second fastest growing addiction in America (porn addiction is #1). Gambling addiction can be really bad because it, by definition, wastes so much of a family’s income.

While drugs can drain resources almost as fast as gambling, usually drug addicts find a way to keep the money aspect of things under some sort of control. Not so with gambling addicts. They bankrupt their families all the time.

People often deal with being married to a gambling addict by divorcing that gambling addict. They assume that will end their money problems because they won’t have to endure their ex’s behavior any more.

I wish that were true.

One tactic gamblers use to feed their addiction is by stealing other people’s identities. And when a gambler has kids, those kids are easy targets for identity theft.

Here are a few suggestions to keep your kids and their identities safe from a gambling addict.

  1. “Freeze” your kids’ credit reports.

When you put a “credit security freeze” on a credit account, it means no one can pull your credit report and score. If creditors cannot see a credit score, they will often (not always, oddly enough) deny a credit application. This means if you ex tried to open a credit card in your child’s name, the credit card company wouldn’t be able to run a credit check. This means there’s a much higher likelihood that your ex wouldn’t be able to open the credit card.

To put a credit security freeze on your kids’ accounts, you will need to contact all the major credit bureaus and work with them to initiate the process.

  1. Purchase identity theft insurance.

Another great idea to keep your kids’ identity safe is to purchase identity theft insurance.

There are some places that sell credit monitoring services, but those don’t do much. Essentially, they tell you when your identity has been stolen (gee, thanks).

By contrast, identity theft insurance will help you not only monitor your credit reports, but will also pay someone to fix everything if your identity is stolen. (It can take tens or hundreds of hours talking to banks and credit companies to set everything straight after identity theft occurs. Having someone do that for you is a lifesaver.)

This insurance is very inexpensive. Zander Insurance has a great plan with up to $1 million in coverage for peanuts.

  1. Tell your ex that if anything ever happens to the kids’ identities, you’ll go to the police and the FBI.

Yes, I know, I’m telling you to threaten your ex. I don’t normally suggest that sort of thing, but if you suspect your gambling addict ex will steal your kids’ identities, go ahead and threaten.

Identity theft is a crime. It’s certainly a state crime, and since it almost always involves dealing with institutions in other states, it’s almost always a federal crime as well.

This means you can go to the local police as well as the FBI. Let your ex you’ll be doing both if your kids’ identities are stolen.

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