SCHUMER: CHILDREN ARE VULNERABLE TO IDENTITY THIEVES; KIDS UNDER 18 ARE EASY TARGETS BECAUSE THEIR CREDIT REPORTS ARE OFTEN CLEAN AND UNMONITORED; SENATOR TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION THAT WILL AUTOMATICALLY FREEZE CREDIT FOR KIDS – UNTIL PARENTS UNFREEZE IT —WILL PROTECT KIDS FROM SEVERAL TYPES OF ID THEFT
Over 1.8 Million Children In New York Could Be Victims Of Social Security Identity Theft – Many Only Discover the ID-Theft When Checking their Credit Report for the First Time and Learn That Their 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
On a conference call with reporters, 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 said this legislation is critical because it will give the parents of the 1,815,105 children across Upstate New York State greater peace of mind and better protect their children from starting their financial lives with a ravaged credit history.
“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 1.8 million minors in Upstate New York, 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.”
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 or looking to open a shared credit card – 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.
During the call, Schumer also provided county data on the number of children who could be at risk. Throughout Upstate New York there are 1,815,105 children, all of whom could be at risk of child identity theft through credit reports:
· In the Capital Region, there are 235,070 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
· In Central New York, there are 227,290 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
· In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, there are 261,289 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
· In Western New York, there are 281,775 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
· In the Southern Tier, there are 151,634 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
· In the Hudson Valley, there are 546,066 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
· In North Country, there are 111,981 children under the age of 18 who could be at risk.
Previous Article Next Article