Child identity theft cases have increased 200 percent since 2003, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
ATLANTA -- Atlanta-based Equifax is warning parents that their children's identities could be especially vulnerable when they go back to school.
It's the time of year when parents are flooded with forms to fill out for school, sports and other extracurricular activities.
In some cases, you're asked to provide your child's social security number and yet have no way of controlling who has access to it.
"The only way to prevent it is by taking very precautionary measures because it is a very vulnerable area," said Trey Loughran, president of the personal solutions unit at Equifax.
Loughran points to the following statistics:
*According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of reported cases of child identity theft has increased 200% over the last 10 years.
*A study by Carnegie Mellon last year showed one in 10 children have had their social security number compromised.
*Here are some warning signs: your child gets credit card offers in the mail or calls from collection agencies. If your child is turned down for a student loan, that's another red flag.
"It's arguably one of the most invisible crimes you can find," Loughran said. "When a child's identity is compromised by someone who wants to use it for fraudulent purposes, that might not be uncovered for years and years and years."
So what can you do now to protect your children?
Loughran said you should avoid carrying your child's social security card. Instead, lock it up. And think twice before you share the numbers.
"If someone asks for it, ask them why they need it," he said. "Ask them if there's not another piece of identification you can give them."
Loughran said there's no database listing children's social security numbers that Equifax or other credit bureaus can use to prevent the problem.
You can run a credit report for your child.
If there's no match, that usually means no activity, and that's good news.
You can also pay for a credit monitoring plan for children.