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Identity Theft: The youngest victims

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 5:22pm

Aubriella Navarro is only 11 days old, but she already has a Social Security number.

Now the challenge for her mother Tiffany is to protect her daughter's identity.

"It would never even cross my mind to have to worry about her Social Security, her identity," she said. "That's the furthest thing from my mind as a mom right now."

Jay Foley with the Identity Theft Resource Center says a growing number of identity thieves are targeting children as prey.

"We are seeing more and more cases of identity theft every year with children's information being used and abused," Foley said.

The ITRC works with identity victims and is finding nearly 10 percent of complaints involve the social security of children under the age of 18.

Recent reports show children's personal information being used by criminals to apply for credit cards, mortgages and driver's licenses.

Tara Northcutt is the mother of three.

She says she never checked her own credit report until she was in college.

Now she worries about the safety of her young boys.

"It's kind of scary to think it is out there because there are people who will do wrong things with it," Northcutt said.

In the 1980s, many hospitals encouraged parents to apply for Social Security numbers for their newborn children.

Families are now required to use their children's Social Security numbers on tax records.

The use of those number goes way beyond the Internal Revenue Service.

"You have to put it on so many things," said Rachael Northcutt, a mother of five. "It's hard to protect because it is required for so many things.

Jay Foley says Social Security numbers are often required for after-school programs, athletic teams and dance classes.

Foley says parents need to ask four questions to people asking for their children's Social Security number.

Why do you need it?

Who gets access to it?

How will you protect it?

How will you dispose it?

Foley also says parents should not run credit reports on children until they are 16, unless they suspect foul play.

As for parents like Rachael Northcutt, this is just another thing to worry about.

"You worry about them running across the street, " Northcutt said. "You don't worry that their Social Security number is getting taken by some person on a computer."
 

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