BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Authorities say a New York based identity theft ring targeted children’s Social Security numbers throughout the country.

Following a 16-month investigation by the New York State Police and Social Security Administration, eight people from Buffalo and Amherst are charged with identity theft. Authorities say the suspects were using Social Security numbers stolen from children as young as 11.

WEB EXTRA: Child Identity Theft – What To Know, What To Do (.pdf via the Federal Trade Commission)

Investigators say a 2017 suspicious activity report from the State Intelligence Center about Social Security numbers being used by different assigned names launched the initial investigation.

Investigators say one man illegally obtained the Social Security numbers and then sold them to the other participants, who then used the numbers to obtain credit cards.

The SSA is working to repair the victims’ credit.

For tips on how to prevent child identity theft and warning signs to look out for, click here.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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