New Law Protects Children from Identity Theft
Wisconsin took a major step in curbing identity theft with a new law that protect children’s identities. Known as the Wisconsin Child Credit Protection Act, this law is designed to make sure that a child’s information cannot be used to open a credit account until the child is 16 years old.
Under the WCCPA, parents can pay $10 per credit bureau to create a credit record for a child, and then freeze the record until the child is 16.
Technically, there should not be a record until that time anyway, but identity thieves like steal the identity of young children, knowing they probably won’t get caught for years. A recent Carnegie Mellon study found that 10.2% of children under the age of 18 had someone else using their Social Security number. That percentage is dramatically higher than the 0.2% rate for adults in the study.
Most parents do no conscientiously monitor their children’s credit scores because they should not exist. Thieves who realize this create accounts under minor’s names that may prevent those children from getting loans and credit cards in the future.
Jerad Albracht from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection said that most of these cases involve thieves who are close to the families, rather than random strangers.
“It’s often someone who’s close to the child, not just someone out in the public,” said Albracht. “You have a mix of both, but I believe the studies show that the majority of the time, (the offenders) are people close to the child.”
Hopefully, the WCCPA sets a standard that other states will soon follow. It could do a lot to protect our children’s identities.