SOUTH BEND -- Your two-year old child could be bankrupt. Your newborn could be thousands of dollars in debt. One in 10 children are victims of identity theft. The younger the child, the more likely they'll be a victim. "There's a significant escalation of identity theft with kids,” said Dr. Jesse Hsieh, President of the Board of Trustees at the South Bend Clinic. Doctors see it, others track it. According to ALL CLEAR ID, a fraud protection website, identity theft has doubled in the past year for children five years old and younger. "It's scary how easy it is for people to get that information so easily and then ruin what could be this child's future," said mother of three, Katie Neeser. The Federal Trade Commission said there have been 57,000 child identity theft cases reported to them in the past three years. Dr. Hsieh said social media is one big red flag - Facebook, Twitter, Flickr. "There are many people throughout the world that can see what your child's name is, what date they were born, who their parents are, where they were born, and tie that to a social security number." Strangers are constantly creeping on your Facebook profile - making your kids easy targets. It's an attractive scam for thieves because kids have a clean slate when it comes to credit. A person stealing your child's identity could use their information for years because its goes undetected. "There's nothing this child can do," Neeser said. Think about it: How many of you check your toddler's credit? "The first time I would think of it is when they're going to college, they're applying for credit cards," Neeser said. The crime goes unnoticed - up until your child is denied for a job, a credit card or a student loan. So how does someone steal your child's identity? The Federal Trade Commission lists these common ways
- Thieves create computer viruses to find personal documents that list your child's Social security number.