Most adults past a certain age probably remember applying for their Social Security number. There really wasn't any reason to get one until you got your first job.

But things are different now. Since the 1980's, children in the U.S. have been issued Social Security numbers (SSN) at birth. Since they don't use them until for credit purposes until they are at least 18, the number lies dormant for 18 years. That's plenty of time for an identity thief to steal it.

Unfortunately, credit issuers do not currently have the ability to verify if a SSN belongs to an adult or a minor. If they knew that the SSN presented belonged to a minor they would automatically deny opening a credit account.

Years ago, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) envisioned a simple solution to this problem. Its called the Minors 17-10 Database and ITRC has been talking with various government entities and legislators about this concept since July 2005.

With the growing popularity of so-called "credit protection numbers" -- credit privacy numbers (CPN) -- and now "secondary credit numbers" being sold online, this issue has become more urgent, the group says. These dormant Social Security numbers, being sold as CPNs, frequently were issued to children. The crime, identity theft, most likely will not be discovered until the teen reaches adulthood.

The creation of a Minors 17-10 Database would provide credit issuers the tool to verify if the SSN provided belongs to a child, ITRC says. This proposed SSA record file would selectively extract the name, month of birth, year of birth, and SSN of every minor from birth to the age of 17 years and 10 months.

This record file, maintained by SSA, would be provided monthly to approved credit reporting agencies. When credit issuers call about the creditworthiness of a SSN, if the number is on the Minors 17-10 Database, they would be told that the SSN belongs to a minor.

This, ITRC argues, would effectively deny obtaining credit using a minor's SSN. It would reduce business fraud loss as well as protecting children from abuse of their SSNs for illegal financial purposes.