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Mother's warning after 5-year-old's identity stolen

HOUMA, LA (WVUE) -

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Despite trying to be overly cautious with her children's personal information, one mother says her 5-year-old son's identity was stolen. It could happen to your child as well.

If you ask nicely, 5-year-old Gavin Karpinsky will gladly share his Legos. But he knows that someone didn't ask before taking his identity.

Looking back, Gavin's mother, Heather, says a pile of junk mail addressed to her son was a warning sign.

“It’s a collection notice for him and I didn’t' order anything for him and he can't order anything,” said Heather.

Then she received a letter confirming her fears - a medical service provider notified them of a security breach. Gavin's identity was stolen.

“I said we're going to go down to the police department, and he was very excited,” said Heather.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, Gavin's not alone. More than one million children were victims of identity fraud in 2017-- costing more than $2 billion to families.

They say checking and freezing your child's credit is one of the most effective tools to keep thieves from opening accounts in your child's name.

The Federal Trade Commission also warns parents to be wary of collection calls or bills, notices from the IRS saying your child didn't pay income taxes, or if your child is turned down for government benefits.

Since learning her son is the target of identity theft, Heather's also filed a police report, applied for credit alerts, and contacted credit reporting companies to monitor Gavin’s accounts.

“I never knew this could happen. I was shocked. I’ve heard of identity theft, my husband had identity theft, but I didn't know it could happen to someone so young,” said Heather.

Gavin has a theory though of who took his identity, “he's 3 years old,” said Gavin. He just wants an apology.

According to the Javelin Strategy & Research study, children are more likely to be the victims in an information breach.

The study says the limited financial history gives thieves time to apply for accounts.

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