WILMINGTON -- When you think of identity theft you probably think of the elderly, or at least adults. Detectives say it happens to children too. It's nearly impossible to tell how often children are the victims of identity theft because investigators say often times its their own parents committing the crime. New Hanover County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Craig Bredenbeck said, "I would hope and think that a parent or somebody like that who does have access to a child' information wouldn't do something like that but then again, you never know." Sgt. Brendebeck handles identity fraud cases on a regular basis. He says it's rare, but he has seen cases of parents stealing the identity of their own child. "They're either out there stealing someone else's identity because they can't obtain credit, they can't get credit very easily." Often times, the cases go unreported until the child grows up and finds out about their parents betrayal the hard way. "They may initially make some payments and then stop. And then the credit goes bad, it goes possibly into collection, it then gets put onto that child's credit history. Then that child grows up and this information shows up on their credit history and ruins that child's credit history right from the get go." Bredenbeck says the child identity fraud that does get reported is usually discovered during messy divorces, and has advice for parents who may be in that situation. "It may not be a bad idea to run a credit check or credit history on that child." Sgt. Bredenbeck says since it's often a parent who steals his own child's identity, it can be nearly impossible to prevent, or detect. To put it into context a detective in riverside California compared the social security numbers of thousands of children under the age of 12 in the town to social security numbers of people in the workforce database and found more than 200 cases of identity fraud.
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