New York State Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) announced today the signing of legislation that he sponsored along with Senate Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Lee M. Zeldin (R-Suffolk) that would allow parents and guardians to freeze the credit record of their children in order to prevent identity theft (A.8955-B/S.6682B). Governor Cuomo signed the measure in to law on Friday, November 21st. The law had become increasingly necessary as a 2011 report by ID Analytics, an identity theft protection firm, noted that an estimated 140,000 minors are at risk of falling victim to identity theft every year. Moreover, a 2011 study, from CyLab, a research center at Carnegie Mellon University, examined 41,000 children who were registered with a commercial identity protection service and found that 10% of them had someone else using their social security number.
“This law gives parents the ability to take proactive steps to protect their child’s identity and their credit information. Child identity theft can go on for years without a parent realizing it is occurring and this can have harmful effects on the child’s credit report,” Mr. Dinowitz noted. “This can lead to serious problems later in life for the children when they apply for student loans, try to find a job or attempt to build their credit. Parents have every right to freeze their child’s credit and stop a potentially horrible situation from ever occurring.”
“With today’s constant stream of data-sharing and the 24-7 use of technology to store personal information, reports of identity theft have soared and children are quickly becoming the number one target,” Mr. Dinowitz said. “Knowing that a child will not be applying for credit cards or taking out loans for many years, criminals see a window of opportunity for credit abuse that can take place for a long time before anyone is made aware of the fraudulent activity. It is more important than ever for parents to have a way to shield their children from the lingering and detrimental effects of identity theft. This law allows parents to freeze their child’s credit report, prevent child identity theft and help New York push back against a rapidly growing problem.”
The law requires credit reporting agencies to place a credit record freeze on a child’s account at the request of parent or guardian. Following the freeze, a consumer reporting agency would be prohibited from releasing the child’s credit report or any information included in the report to any third party, with a few minor exceptions as required by law. The credit freeze could be removed at the request of the parent or guardian or by the child once he or she turns 16 years old.