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3-Year-Old Girl In New Jersey Receives Federal Jury Duty Letter, Raising Red Flags About Child Identity Theft

RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey family is asking how a 3-year-old gets a letter for federal jury duty.

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reports, it turns out, it could be a red flag for child identity theft, and it may be happening more than we all realize.

Whether she's making dinner with her mom, shooting hoops with her big brother or playing with a new friend, Madison Behrmann is a smart, sassy little 3-year-old who's bound to be a success when she's older.

But she's still years away from being eligible for, say, jury duty, despite a letter she got from U.S. District Court.

"Asking her to fill out a questionnaire for federal jury duty in Newark," mom Laura Behrmann said.

The letter says Madison's name had been drawn by random selection from the voter's registration. Obviously, Behrmann never registered her toddler to vote.

"It's a total mess, and we still have no idea, nor can anybody tell me, how they got her name," she said. "Did somebody steal her identity? Did somebody vote in her name? Is there somebody impersonating her out there, credit cards, taking out a loan in her name?"

So how does this happen? Experts say it's basic sharing of information, like address or social security number, and having that information get into the wrong hands. Children are targeted the same way as adults.

"It may happen for years under your nose and massive damage being done by the time that you found out," said cyber security expert Ian Marlow. "One of the very first steps that they should do is contact a credit agency as the parent of a minor ... and do something called locking their credit."

Marlow says locking credit can prevent the opening of any new account. He says you should run regular free credit reports on yourself and your child and protect your child's social security number and birthdate information as you would your own.

The Behrmanns filed a police report and are waiting for credit reports on both of their kids. Now, they just need to get Madison off that jury duty list.

"She might be really good at it, I don't know, but she will need an adult to take her to the bathroom, so you know," Behrmann said, laughing.

Finding the lighter side while getting to the bottom of a serious situation.

A state senator checked into the situation and told the family the child is actually not registered to vote, so the mystery as to how the courts got her name and information continues.

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