Child Identity Theft: A WTOL11 Investigation - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Child Identity Theft: A WTOL11 Investigation

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The Federal Trade Commission estimates about 140,000 children have their identity stolen every year.

Experts say children are particularly attractive targets for identity thieves because it can take years for parents to realize a child's identity has been stolen.

"Most children, they're not applying for credit cards, they're not applying for mortgage loans, so they're not having to pull that credit report," said Michael Dansack, a lawyer who represents victims of identity theft. "You don't discover it until several years have gone by - and then you have to undo a lot of things that have happened over a 5 to 10 year period."

Wynter Matthews unfortunately became one of those 140,000 a few years ago when her mother's purse was stolen. Nijah Underwood says she had no idea someone was running up bills under her daughter's name until she received a bill nearly a year after the robbery.

"A bill came in the mail with her name on it from some collection agency out of Michigan," said Underwood. "I was quite stunned because at the time like I said she was like 5 or 6 and I was thinking why does my daughter have a debt?"

Underwood later learned that someone had checked into the hospital and delivered a child using Wynter's Social Security number, then skipped out on the more than $15,000 bill.

Dansack says parents can take some steps to prevent the headache Underwood had to go through after her daughter's identity was stolen.   He says parents should always keep a child's birth certificate and Social Security card in a safe place, make sure online passwords are secure and educate their kids on what information is ok to share and what should be kept private for security reasons.

Parent should also make a point to check their child's credit around their sixteenth birthday, which leaves a couple of years to resolve any issues before the child becomes an adult.

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