Child Identities need more Legal Protection
Identity theft can involve children. In fact, it’s a growing problem. The thief takes a child’s Social Security number and either uses their name or assigns it to a different name and always changes the date of birth. So 2 year old Sally is now 22 and has a Benz. The thief then uses this new identity for job applications, loans or government benefits.
The unique disaster is that child identity theft could persist for years before the parents or victim when older figure it out. This delay makes it harder to restore the victim’s good name. Tens of thousands of children are victims of identity theft every year across the U.S.
In Florida, it’s estimated that 50,000 child identity theft cases occur every year. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Nancy Detert have proposed legislation to help prevent victimization.
A bill (SB 242) will permit parents to freeze a child’s credit records until they’re old enough to use them: the Keeping IDs Safe (KIDS) Act.
A broad coalition of groups (e.g., bankers, law enforcement and children’s advocates) backs this legislation. This includes the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Children’s Home Society and school superintendents.
The KIDS Act may protect up to 10,000 Florida kids from identity theft every year.
How it works:
Parents of kids under 16 or who are guardians of disabled adults can request that a credit agency create the credit record; then freeze it until the child/adult can use it. A fee of up to $10 can be charged by the agencies.
Though adults have already been able to freeze their credit records, they need to realize that child identity theft is a real and growing problem, and that freezing their records is a very viable guard against this crime.
Meanwhile identity theft protection in many cases will help prevent child identity theft. However not all services offer this option. The good news is that child identity theft protection is generally less than $50.00 a year per child when the parent invests in a family plan.