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Child identity theft on the rise, relatives most likely thieves

MGN, file

A disturbing crime is on the rise. Criminals are stealing the identities of children and infants.

Unfortunately, victims usually don't find out their identity has been stolen until they become an adult, and undoing the damage can be an endless battle.

According to experts, there's one key to protecting your kids.

"Everybody should just assume their information is out there somewhere that people can steal it," said Ron Burns, vice president of risk management at Kern Schools Federal Credit Union.

While Kern Schools Federal Credit Union has safeguards to protect your children, Burns added that not all lenders do, and an identity only needs to be stolen once for things to go wrong.

"Check to see if your child has a credit report or anything against that Social Security number for your child," he said.

Anselmo Morneo, credit consultant and owner of Innovative Credit Solutions in Bakersfield, said his clients who have their identities stolen as children can be some of the most challenging cases.

"We don't see them as children, we get them as adults," Moreno said.

Moreno said the reason child identity theft is possible is many lenders only check if a Social Security number exists, not who it belongs to or how old they are.

Moreno also said identity theft can affect more than just your credit score. People can work as your kids and get arrested as your kids. Meaning, your child could owe the IRS and be a felon without even knowing it.

The other big problem is in most cases the identity thief is a relative, sometimes even the parents, which creates a giant hurdle in getting the child's credit restored.

"It requires reporting it to the police, and people can get very scared that it will start an investigation and someone they care for will get in trouble," Moreno said.

But not reporting it can mean big trouble for the victim, because once an identity is stolen, almost nothing can be done to get it back.

To check if there has been any activity on your child's, Social Security number click here.

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