NEW YORK (CBSNEWS.COM) – Have you checked your child’s credit report lately? You may want to. More than 1 million children had their identities stolen in 2017, according to new research.

Worse, because a child’s credit report is a “blank slate,” crooks can use a kid’s Social Security number to create an entirely new identity. By the time the child grows up and finds out he or she has been victimized, the crook has done so much damage that it’s extremely difficult to correct, said Al Pascual, head of fraud and security for Javelin Strategy and Research, which conducted the study released today.

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“With every new account that the criminal opens, the criminal adds credibility to his claim to that [victimized child’s] Social Security number and the credit report that goes along with it,” said Pascual. “That can make it extremely difficult for the victim to fix the record.”

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The theft is likely to go unnoticed for years. The study, which was sponsored by Identity Guard, found 66 percent of child ID theft victims are under the age of 8 — more than 10 years away from being able to sign a legal contract.

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