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Identity thieves target kids: Here's what you should know

Kids are falling victim to identity theft at a higher rate. (WDIV)

They don't have credit cards. They don't own a home, and they don't even drive a car.

But kids are the new target for identity theft scammers.

"They haven't defaulted on loans, they don't have past due utility bills," said Holly Salmons, of the Better Business Bureau.

In 2017, more than one million children were victims of identity theft or fraud. Two-thirds of those affected were age 7 or younger. Simply obtaining a child's Social Security number allows scammers to open new accounts or make big purchases and run up a lot of debt. The problem? You might not even know about it until years later.

"A child goes to purchase his first car, apply for a student loan, and he's denied," said Salmons.

How to protect kids

  • Don't give out their social security number even to close friends.
  • Studies show family friends are the most common suspects in child identity theft cases.
  • Make sure you password-protect digital documents that contain personal information such as birth certificates and tax returns.
  • Freezing your child's credit can also prevent new accounts from being opened in their name. But this can only be done in certain states so check your state's policies.