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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – A recent study from Javelin research and strategy found nearly 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year.

And it’s not just adults that can have their identity stolen.

Gavin Karpinsky never worried about having his identity stolen.

That’s because he’s five-years-old and is more concerned about playing super hero with his twin brother.

“I was shocked,” said Gavin’s mother, Heather.

Gavin’s mom heather recently started getting mail addressed to her son.

“I got a letter that said collection notice also to Gavin, and I thought how could Gavin have a collection notice,” said Heather. “And I opened it up and it was a bill for a little over $180 and the following day I got another letter in the mail that said his identity had been stolen by a computer hacker.”

Karpinsky says there was a data breach at Gavin’s doctor’s office.

The hacker obtained enough info to open accounts in the child’s name and rack up at least 12 unpaid bills after buying items over the TV.

This family is not alone.  A survey found 1 million children were victims of identity theft in 2017.

ID theft expert Adam Levin says with a child’s social security number and other details, a thief can get credit cards and open all kinds of accounts.

“This problem is going to continue,” Levin said. “And often nobody knows until that child at some point 17, 18, 19 applies for his or her first credit experience and finds out their credit is horrendous.”

Levin says you can sign up for credit monitoring or just contact the three major credit agencies and have your child’s credit frozen.

This will prevent anyone from opening an account in their name.

Experts say you should limit giving out your child’s Social Security number and question if it’s really needed when filling out forms.

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