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Safeguard your home
Lock up your child's:
- Social Security number.
- Birth certificate.
- Other personal information.
Most people are surprised to learn that identity theft is typically "a family affair," says Weisman. Family, or anyone else with access to your home, can nab these details just by nosing around.
Because identity thieves are often family members, it can feel "like a horror story where the call is coming from inside the house," says Joel Winston, a New York-based attorney specializing in privacy law.
"Child identity thieves who know their victims rationalize that the use of credit is just temporary and will be paid back without the child ever knowing," Winston says. "Other thieves feel that if the money is being used to take care of the child, then it's justified to use the child's credit."
The financial consequences can be severe, as thieves can "churn and burn" through the child's credit history quickly, he says. "Whereas an adult with existing credit accounts might be flagged by an avalanche of new accounts, a thief can abuse a child's pristine credit report for 5 to 15 days before new accounts start registering and credit limits are flagged."