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More Than 2 Million Children Across New York City & Millions Across New York State Could Be Victims Of Social Security Identity Theft—400K+ and Many Others Already Are & Learn Of ID-Theft When Checking Credit Report For First Time Only To Realize Credit Was Ruined By ID Thieves 

Schumer Plans To Introduce Bill That Would Automatically Freeze Credit For Kids Until Their Parents Decide To Un-Freeze It; Will Prevent Credit Companies From Allowing Someone to Open an Account For A Child Unless They Prove They Are The Parent or Guardian – Thwarting Would-Be Thieves From Using Stolen Info to Open Lines of Credit 

Schumer: Without Better Protections, Kids Are Like Sitting Ducks to Identity Thieves

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced he is introducing legislation that will better protect children from having their credit history ruined by identity theft. Schumer explained that children under the age of 18 are particularly vulnerable to identity thieves because their credit accounts are often unmonitored, and their credit account is particularly attractive to thieves because they have a clean credit history.  Because children’s credit reports are rarely monitored, the theft of a child’s identity could go undetected for years and it’s often not until a child is ready to open a line of credit at the bank or set up a joint credit card with a parent that the theft is discovered. That is why Schumer is introducing legislation that would automatically freeze the credit of children under 18 until the credit agency confirms that a parent is the one requesting the action and wishes to un-freeze the credit of their minor. Schumer says this legislation is critical because it will give the parents of millions of children across New York City and across New York State greater peace of mind and better protections for their children, especially when it comes to ensuring their financial lives do not begin in a deep credit hole. Schumer’s legislation also puts those parents that do decide to unfreeze their children’s credit on notice that it must monitored diligently.

Schumer said this legislation is critical because it will give the parents of the more than 2 million children across New York City and nearly 2 million more across upstate greater peace of mind and better protections for their children, guaranteeing they do not start their financial lives with a ravaged credit history. Schumer will introduce this legislation next week.

“Our second-graders should be worried about their spelling tests, not their credit scores. That is why we need to make sure our youngest New Yorkers are protected from predatory identity thieves looking to steal their personal data and sink their credit before they even enter high school or college. The reality is many of these victims do not even realize their identity has been stolen until it is too late – and at which point it could take years to build back up,” said Schumer. “With over 2 million minors in New York City, it’s clear something needs to be done to protect their identities and their credit from thieves. That is why my legislation would automatically keep a child’s credit under lock and key until their family is ready for them to start building credit.”

Schumer continued, “And this is the kind of peace-of-mind parents both need and deserve. Parents should be concerned about things like whether or not their child misses the school bus each day, not whether or not that child’s financial future is being taken for a ride by a fraudulent thief who might have gained access to a child’s personal information via a school, the doctor’s office or at a summer camp.”  

Child identity theft is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent forms of identity theft in the United States. Various studies have estimated that there are between 140,000 and 400,000 cases of child identity theft nationally each year. Schumer explained that child identity theft occurs when an identity thief opens a line of credit or applies for a credit card in a child’s name, often by illegally obtaining their Social Security Number. Schumer said children under the age of 18 are particularly attractive targets for identity thieves because their credit has a clean history and often goes unmonitored. Schumer said parents could be caught unaware by this theft because they see no need to monitor their child’s credit, since they have no plans to apply for a credit card or open a line of credit until the child was of the appropriate age. However, Schumer said that is exactly where the danger lies; it is often not until years later, when a child is applying for a student loan, looking to open a shared credit card, or begins the purchase of their first car – often at the age of 18 and in conjunction with a parent – that this theft is discovered. At that point, the damage is already done.

Schumer said this can be particularly devastating when a child discovers their identity has been stolen and they are in the process of applying for loans or an apartment during or after college, which require comprehensive credit checks. Schumer said a poor credit score – the product of years of undetected identity theft – could sink the child’s hopes of being approved for a loan or applying for their first lease.

Therefore, Schumer is introducing legislation that would greatly increase protections on children’s credit. Currently some states, including New York, have systems in place that allow parents to voluntarily “freeze” their child’s credit in order to thwart identity thieves. However, Schumer’s legislation would go one step further by automatically locking access to children’s credit accounts. Under Schumer’s bill, parents could unlock their child’s credit after a credit agency confirms that the person requesting a specific action is in fact the child’s parent or guardian. Schumer said this “freeze” is a crucial protection because it will serve as a defensive barrier against the most common methods of monetizing identity theft of children, but will still allow parents to safely open up a line of credit for their son or daughter when they so choose.