As more and more children are having their credit ratings damaged by identity theft before they think of borrowing a dime, Maryland lawmakers have approved a first-of-its-kind measure to enable parents to take steps to protect their kids.
The Maryland Child Identity Lock bill will allow parents to take the step of freezing their child’s credit at any time. Supporters hope it will be a model for other states to protect not only children, but also disabled and elderly people who can be particularly vulnerable to identity theft.
Credit agencies do not knowingly create credit reports for minors under the age of 18. When credit bureaus collect data for people applying for credit from lending partners, they get a name and Social Security number, but they don’t have data to double check someone’s actual age due to a lack of information sharing between credit reporting agencies and the Social Security Administration.
A study released last year by ID Analytics, a California-based consumer risk management firm, found that about 140,000 identity frauds against minors occur each year. The study was based on a review of more than 172,000 children whose identities were protected through ID Analytics Consumer Notification Serve from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011.
Overall, children are more likely than adults to be targeted for identity theft, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. The researchers worked with an identity theft protection company to comb through records of 42,000 children and found more than 10 percent showed signs of identity theft.
While there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to protecting children from identity theft, it’s good to see that lawmakers are starting to take notice of the issue, and are creating laws to address the problem. We can always hope that the social security administration will someday become directly involved with the issues surrounding identity theft, and institute some policy or procedure that will allow individuals to protect their Social Security number the same way we can already protect our credit accounts. Simply put, our Social Security number is the biggest liability we have when it comes to identity theft.
For more information on ID Theft protection, visit www.hvshred.com