Greensboro, NC -- It happened at age six.
"It's really scary. Just to think what could happen to me in the future - and what it's going to effect," said Madison Polansky.
Ten years later, Polansky had no idea what was stolen until a surprising letter arrived saying she owes more than $1,000 in taxes on a $33,000 income.
"Well I haven't worked that much, obviously when I was six-years-old, nor twelve. So that was intimidating for sure," she said.
Madison's social security number also belongs to a Sergio Blandon and a Rodrigo Lopez. Both have been using her social security number for employment for years.
Polansky is part of growing group of children whose financial future may be ruined thanks to identity thieves targeting kids
as young as infants.
Identity theft expert John Sileo said, "A child is 51 times more likely to be a victim of than an adult is, meaning it is
the fasting growing segment of this crime."
John Sileo travels the country as a keynote speaker. He says ID
thieves have been targeting kids more because they know the crime goes unnoticed for years.
"The reason that thieves target kids is number one, they have pristine credit. Secondly there's a lack of over-sight. None of us are paying attention to our kids' credit and so nobody is watching it."
A recent study of 27,000 children found 10% of them had their social security number tied to mortgages, loans, credit card accounts and even vehicle registrations.
The most targeted group was kids under age 5.
According to Sileo, thieves are often family members committing "friendly fraud."
"It's where a parent or a relative of the child, maybe they're struggling financially, they use the child's identity to gain credit or gain a service of some sort."
Monica Polansky's father John said, "It's very frustrating that your child at the age of 16 basically, since the age of 6
has had her identity stolen and no one has notified us."
"My daughter is going to be going off to college soon, they told me it could affect her ability to get student loans if it has gone on to her credit."
Madison said, "It's scary to know it might not be as big of an opportunity as it could have been."
Here are some ideas on how to fight this.
Beware what you share.
Every time you give out information on the web, on social media or on a form, it could end up in the wrong hands.
Focus on prevention.
Our expert says it's a good idea to sign up for one of those ID theft monitoring services which can help with prevention or recovering a victim's credit.
It's also a good idea to be proactive.
Our expert says it can take 10 to 15 years for a parent to discover child ID theft.