Thieves often target children to steal their identity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Thieves can target some of the youngest members of your family by trying to steal their identity.

The crime continues to be the fastest growing in the U.S., with 25 million people falling victim to identity theft annually. That number includes children.

Many banks are ramping up the customer education efforts about this problem for National Protect Your Identity Week. 

The FTC reports criminals will target a child's personal information to get a job, a car loan or a mortgage. Often young victims do not realize for years that a crime has been committed against them.

"They don't file a tax return until they start working or need credit until they're older," LeeAnn Piontek with US Bank said . "You get a letter from the IRS saying you haven't filed your taxes. Then it's when the fun starts trying to back track and fix it all."

To avoid becoming a victim, the FTC recommends that you keep documents with your kids personal information locked in a secure location. Only share your child's social security number with people you know and trust.

Consider a credit report check on your child. The FTC recommends doing one around their 16th birthday. That's a time when they may apply for tuition or a car loan. If you find errors, you can work to correct them.

Consumers can access a free credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.

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