As children return to school, security experts want parents to add one more thing to their yearly checklist – safeguarding their child's identity.
Monday is Child Identity Theft Awareness Day.
“This is a huge problem that frankly no one is aware of if they're not paying attention to it, because it feels like an adult crime and it couldn't possibly happen to a child, but it does,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center.
Recent studies show over 1 million children are impacted each year, with losses over $2.6 billion.
This year, new government programs for COVID-19 relief have created new vulnerabilities.
Children are prime targets because thieves can use their credentials to build credit history over time, then take out loans, open credit cards and max them out.
It can take months or even years for parents to realize their kids now have bad credit.
“The detection methods adults use just by engaging in the outside world, those aren't there for children and the thieves realize that and they know it can go undetected for long periods of time,” said Velasquez.
The center says it's never too early to start monitoring your child's identity.
Teach them cyber safety as they get older and watch for red flags.
If you get something in the mail for your kid that looks like it should be for adult, don't write it off as a mistake.
The biggest recommendation is to freeze your child's credit. It won't solve everything, but it will significantly lower risks.