Anthem hackers victimized millions of kids

Tens of millions of children saw their personal information stolen as part of the Anthem breach, a theft that could haunt them throughout their lives.

The issue of childhood identity theft is rarely discussed, but the hacking of America's second-largest health insurance company is putting it in the spotlight.

ADVERTISEMENT

"This is a watershed event," Tim Rohrbaugh, chief experience officer at Identity Guard, told NBC News as part of a story on the trend. "There is no other bulk acquisition of this much personal data — names, birthdates, addresses and Social Security numbers — that I am aware of in history."

Breaches at a company like Anthem are the most dangerous to consumers because of the scope of information available to hackers.

Rather than a retailer, which might only hold consumers' credit numbers and addresses, a health insurance company also has dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

These can easily become tools of identity theft once the information falls into the hands of fraudsters.

Children are appealing victims because their information has not been used very much and few parents — or credit monitoring agencies — are aware of the risk.

Families can become aware that thieves have stolen a child's identity if they receive mailings that assume a child is an adult, such as pre-approved credit card offers.

"If your child has a credit history and you don't know why, you should be very concerned," Experian spokesman Rod Griffin told NBC.

Experian suggested that consumers monitor their mail and, should their child have a credit report, identify and report fraudulent accounts, as well as contact the police.

—This post was updated Thursday at 12:39 p.m.