LOS ANGELES -

Just days after they are born, children receive a Social Security number, and immediately it becomes vulnerable to identity theft.  If that sounds crazy, consider this: Children and adolescents have become the fastest growing sector of identity theft victims.

"Be aware of how your children's personal information is used just like your own information SS number, and date of birth, be aware of how it is being used," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Jim Walsh.

In one recent case, more than 500 elementary school kids had their information compromised.  A suspect with access to school files sold the kids' personal information to another suspect.

"There were hundreds of accounts opened and most of the accounts were used to get money," said Walsh.

Suspects withdrew cash advances or  would sell the names to make fake college IDs.  Postal inspectors say children have clean credit histories,  which makes them appealing to criminals.

"If they apply for a loan or try to get credit they could find out their credit is basically ruined and wouldn't know it the whole time they are growing up," said Walsh.

Inspectors say you need to periodically check your child's credit.

"It is unusual, but it's still something to be aware of as a parent," said Walsh.

Trying to fix a child's ruined credit is just as time consuming as is repairing an adult's credit.  The best advice: Don't give your child's Social Security number and date of birth to someone you don't know or for reasons that seem suspicious.

When it comes to a credit check, every person is entitled to one free report a year, from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

The Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida recommends the website AnnualCreditReport.com.   It has step-by-step instructions and links to all three credit bureaus.