Safety Alert: child identity theft growing in cases

TYLER (KYTX) - A CBS 19 safety alert about identity theft and a specific type that is on the rise, child identity theft.

Children are 35 times more likely than adults to become victims.

It just proves that identity theft has no age limits.

We know the best way to keep your information safe is to shred it, the same goes for your kids.

But for those who have been affected, the idea of taking advantage of a child bothers them most.

"The first two we got we threw away with the junk mail and when we kept getting them, that's when I got concerned maybe someone was using their identity to obtain credit," says Melissa Garrett.

Garrett's two girls started getting credit card approval letters in the mail 4 years ago and calls from debt collectors.

"Contacted the credit reporting agencies and had them put a flag on their account, both of their social security numbers," says Garrett.

Then she found out it was someone they knew.

"To think someone would do this to a child, to say they're somebody that can't fight for themselves and that's who I'm going to pick? Then it upsets me a lot," says Garrett.

"There has to be a little unethical mentality to be able to do that, but it's easy access," says Mechele Mills, the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas.

Mills says family friends or relatives steal children's identities most frequently.

She says it could also happen at a doctor's office or hospital if workers don't guard the information safely enough.

And says if your child has received any credit card offers or calls from debt collectors, check your child's credit report.

But if you haven't, you can check it before they're legally adults.

"Wait until your child is 16, then check their credit report, that gives you 2 years to clean anything up and gives you plenty of time to get cleared up before they actually need their credit," says Mills.

"It's scary and it's concerning and I don't want them to grow up and have a bad credit record before they can even get started," says Garrett.

The Better Business Bureau says the economy could also be a factor in the increased number of child identity theft cases.

Mills says lock up any files with your kids names on them, or shred them.

For more information on how to prevent, or detect child identity theft, click here.


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