Maryland warns parents about dangers of child identity theft

- Maryland’s attorney general is alerting parents to a growing danger when it comes to their kids’ future -- identity theft.

But we are not talking about the theft of the parent’s information, but the theft of their kids’ identity. On average, one in every 40 households has a child whose personal information was stolen by identity thieves.

Now, it turns out children are now the No. 1 target for identity thieves.

There is a new effort to put that protection in place literally from day one.

At one day old, you wouldn't think little Andrew James has to worry about his identity being stolen. But his mother, Kristen, does.

"You want them to be as prepared in life as you can,” she said.

That preparation at Baltimore's MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center now includes identity protection.

“Right after kids are born, parents are filling out the forms to sign up for social security numbers," said Dr. Scott Krugman.

He said the Maryland Hospital Association has launched the website, kidsafemaryland.org, for brand new parents.

"This is an issue that they do need when they wake up, to come back and protect their kids,” said Dr. Krugman.

Maryland officials said kids are 35 times likelier to be targets of identity theft. This website lets parents block their kids personal data from being used to open credit cards or open new accounts.

"People don't understand how at risk they are,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

He said while many children have social security numbers, most don't have debt, property or credit cards -- making their clean slates highly desirable for thieves.

"An identity thief can take the identity of a kid and use it for a decade, 15 years, before anybody finds out about it,” said Frosh.

The Maryland Attorney General's Office said they have seen a dramatic spike in child identity theft cases. Just three years ago, Maryland became the first state to allow parents to place this security freeze on a minor's credit records. Ever since, other states are following suit.

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