Most parents assume their kids are safe.
But the fact is -- kids are prime targets for identity thieves because parents rarely check their credit status.
He never knew it, but when 22 year old Zach Friesen was just a little boy he bought a boat.
"When I was 17 I went to apply for a job and student loan for college I was denied both. That's when I found out when I was 7, 10 years earlier, someone stole my identity and used it to buy a houseboat in my name putting me about 40 thousand dollars in debt over the course of 10 years," says Friesen.
How did it happen? Someone got a hold of Zach's social security number. Experts say kids can be easy targets because they're not making purchases or checking their credit, allowing thieves to buy time and whatever else they choose.
"There is this period of dormancy so to speak in their actual, real credit history and that's what's being exploited by these criminals," says Lifelock's Joel Lisker.
What can you do as a parent to protect your family?
*Shred documents that contain personal information.
*Don't give out personal information over the phone or internet unless you know who you're dealing with.
*Don't use obvious passwords like your birth date.
*Keep personal information in a secure place at home.
*Inspect credit reports and financial statements.
That's a point Zach re-inforces, saying if he and his parents had known sooner it could have been easier to clear up.
"My information was already out there, they knew I wasn't going to check. So in those 10 years I had no way of knowing because they gave a false P.O. box number for all the bills and I didn't have any activity on the grid. There's a lot of things people can do to keep themselves safe but the biggest thing is just to check."
Another piece of advice -- officials say be alert for signs of suspicious activity. For example, unexpected credit cards or denials of credit showing up for no apparent reason.