Consumer Alert: Your Child’s Identity at Risk

You probably know how easy it is for a thief to steal your identity.

But what about your child’s personal information?

It’s a growing crime, even forcing credit agencies to take action.

If a thief stole your identity, you’d probably pick up on it, within a couple of months, even weeks.

But children as young as three are becoming victims of identity theft because it can go undetected for years.

“As soon as they’re born, we’re saying Uncle Sam give me a social security number…and that is all a thief needs,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Specialist Stacey Payne.

Of all the things you protect a child from, Payne says identity theft may be the most important.

“We’re teaching them how to drive. We’re talking to them about safety in a car, but how about safety with their own identity?” she said.

Identity theft is much more subtle than your child’s purse getting snatched. But the damage can be far worse.

“With kids they just don’t know,” said Payne.

“If it started at 15, you have three years before that kid realizes uh-oh, my credit has been compromised,” she said.

Shantell Irwin wants to protect her four year old’s identity but she’s not sure how.

“There’s just so many things that you constantly have to worry about to protect your child and have a safe environment,” she said.

With a birth certificate you can check your child’s credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Other online companies even monitor your minor’s credit and send alerts to parents.

Above all, you should keep their social security number…secure.

If your child does become a victim of identity theft it may be a good idea to freeze their credit and report it to police.

You will also have to go through the same process adults do, when their identity is stolen.

But as one Cape Coral Grandmother pointed out, there are parents out there who are also taking advantage of their own kids.

“I’m not surprised by it because I know of a lot of people that use their children’s names for credit. Because their credit is no good. And that’s not good,” said Lila Zieminski.

That type of identity theft usually goes unreported.

“When a parent’s doing that to their own children, that’s really sad, really sad,” said Payne.

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