FORT MYERS, FL.--Here's an alarming thought-- your child or grandchild's credit could be ruined before they even start kindergarten.
Fraud experts in southwest Florida tell WINK News, ID theft against kids is sharply on the rise.
Deric Cahill does everything he can to protect his 4-year old son, Landon.
But there's a hidden danger, one than could ruin Landon's life forever and strike without warning.
Thieves stealing his identity and racking up extreme debt.
"It is almost like child abuse, to steal a kids credit, because it affects their whole entire life," said Cahill.
According to a new report from AllClear ID, identity theft for children 5 and under has doubled in the past year.
"It is something that we don't think about," said Beth Schell with the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
Schell tells WINK News, thieves target children's information because they can use it for years to apply for credit cards, buy a house or get a loan.
And no one would know.
"It builds up and up and then when you really need it your credit is not available to you because someone else has ruined it," said Schell.
Schell says to regularly check your child's credit report online.
And never carry their social security card with you, but to keep it in a locked, safe place.
"They can also consider a credit freeze on their childs social security number so no one can have access to it," said Schell.