Wisconsin has become one of the latest states to contemplate a child identity theft law designed to help parents and guardians protect children’s credit. Assembly Bill 248 is similar to Maryland’s child identity theft law in that it allows a parent or guardian to freeze a child’s credit if they have a credit report. Should the child not have a credit record, AB 248 would allow a parent or guardian to request that a credit record be created in their child’s name so that they can then freeze the record.
Children are coveted targets for identity thieves because their credit records are a blank slate. Credit reporting agencies do not create credit records for people until they apply for credit. Credit reporting agencies do not verify a credit applicant’s age when receive a request for a credit record. Thus, the first
time a credit application is submitted to a credit reporting agency, the age the applicant puts down is accepted at face value. From that point on, the credit reporting agency now associates that fake age with the child’s Social Security number. This means that an identity thief can steal a child’s Social Security number, apply for credit and establish a fraudulent credit record for them, and continue to abuse the child’s identity until they finally discover the fraud when they first apply for credit, a school loan or for housing.
The effects of child identity theft can be devastating. By the time a child discovers they are a victim of identity theft they could be delinquent on mortgages, credit card debt and any other sort of financial agreement the identity thief entered into. This can result in the child having to defer attending college for years because they cannot qualify for student loans, delay moving out into their own housing because they do not pass credit checks the landlord will run, and delay obtaining their first credit card or other financial accounts due to their terrible credit. It can take years for a victim of child identity theft to restore their credit and identity, permanently setting them behind their peers as their life is put on hold while they deal with the fallout of identity theft.
This bill would help preserve a child’s credit by allowing the parent’s to create an authentic credit record for their child with the correct age and other information associated with their Social Security number and then freeze it so no credit can be obtained even when a criminal has obtained their Social Security number. AB 248 is currently being considered by the Wisconsin Assembly and recently had a public hearing on August 9, 2013. Child identity theft is a serious crime and we hope to see more states take legislative action to protect their children from identity thieves.
“Wisconsin Child Identity Theft Bill” was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.