State investigators arrested a Florida worker they say used the stolen Social Security number of a child to get a job and collect $21,000 in workers' compensation.
Juan Vazquez, 44, worked at Service Works Commercial Roofing near Tampa from 2011 to 2016, according to arrest documents. Company management refused to speak about his employment or even confirm that he had been employed there.
"This is a great example of why when you safeguard your Social Security number, you need to safeguard your spouse's Social Security number, your children's Social Security number, even sometimes your deceased relatives Social Security numbers," said Larry McKinnon, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
McKinnon, along with investigators from several other agencies, said they see cases of identify theft involving children on a fairly regular basis, although statistics were not immediately available.
"You may never know about it until 10 or 15 years later and your child goes to apply for their first credit card or loan and bam there is some sort of credit hit on it," McKinnon added.
According the Federal Trade Commission, there are a few warning signs for parents including being denied certain federal benefits, receiving bills and collection notices in the mail and notices from the IRS that a tax return has already been filed with your child's Social Security number.
"There are services like life lock, Equifax, they all have services that will lock down Social Security numbers that you tag, such as your children's so that if someone anywhere in the country applies for a loan or credit or anything to do with that Social Security number it will get flagged and you will be notified," McKinnon explained.
Other proactive steps include requesting credit reports of your children annually, placing fraud alerts with credit report companies and putting a freeze on your child's credit if their identity has been compromised.