Lawmakers Hope To Help Parents Protect Children From Identity Theft

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s bad enough when identity thieves try to target us, but now they’re going after our kids’ credit and state lawmakers are fighting back.

A new bill would give parents more power to protect their kids’ credit.

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The Federal Trade Commission says half a million children a year have their identities stolen, often when parents fill out forms for schools or doctors offices.

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Colorado is one of the top states for identity theft and it’s also one of the states where parents cannot freeze their child’s credit.

Jessica Duke among those who testified in favor of the bill. She was among millions of people impacted by last year’s security breach at the credit reporting agency Equifax.

“Can you imagine your kids credit being ruined before they can even read because that’s possible?” she asked. “I was shocked I could freeze husband’s and my info for free, but not my children.”

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews James Brejcha.
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James Brejcha says credit reporting agencies wouldn’t even tell him if his sons identities had been stolen after two security breaches.

“Why does a minor not have their credit frozen in the first place?” he asked.

Under the bill, parents could do just that.

“Parents can tell a credit reporting agency to create a credit record for a child that doesn’t have one and then tell a credit reporting agency to freeze the credit record,” said Speaker Crisanta Duran (D) Denver, one of the sponsors of the bill.

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Representative Polly Lawrence (R) Douglas County, another sponsor, says when a child’s identity is stolen, it’s often not detected until they become an adult and apply for a loan or credit card.

“It isn’t a problem that might happen. It is actually a problem that has happened,” says bill sponsor, Representative Kim Ransom (R) Lone Tree. She, Duran and Lawrence say the bill will help prevent it in the future.

“This is something every parent should be concerned about,” said Lawrence.

There are some things parents can watch for that include mail addressed to your child, especially credit card applications, before they even have a wrist watch; protect birth documents from the time you leave the hospital; stop freely giving out child’s identification; verify that your child doesn’t have a credit profile.

Under the bill – which passed its first committee – kids could ask that the freeze be lifted when they turn 16. The bill also allows guardians of at-risk adults to freeze their credit.

Twenty-five states have passed similar laws.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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