We often hear about the theft of adults' identities and the nightmares that can cause for the victims.
But flying under the radar is another type of identity theft that's potentially every bit as harmful, if not more: the swiping of the IDs of children. And,
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 400,000 children have their IDs stolen each year.
Koeppen points out they're perfect targets because they have clean credit histories and thieves can get away with the crime for years, since kids and their parents rarely check the kids' credit reports.
Koeppen spoke with a victim, now 19, who found out when he was 17 that his ID had been stolen when he was seven. The thief used his identity to get a loan and buy a houseboat.
She also talked to security expert Melodi Gates of Qwest Communications, who says parents need to keep their kids' information private. If your children start to get junk mail for credit card offers, it might seem cute, but it could mean that someone is using their identity.
Qwest offers identity theft prevention tips, which you can access by clicking here.
You should check your children's credit reports every year, Koeppen advises. You can do that for free at annualcreditreport.com, the only official Web site for free credit reports. And you can put a block on your children's reports, so people can't use their Social Security numbers and names to easily obtain credit.
Another helpful site for parents seeking to keep their kids' IDs from being ripped off is highwayqwest/identitytheft.