Bill Aimed at Massive Child Identity Theft Problem Sent to Governor

Thursday, August 25, 2016

SACRAMENTO – The California State Legislature today took a huge stride toward protecting children, who are 50 times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults, from cyber thieves, including those who commit so-called “friendly fraud.”

Authored by Assemblymembers Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), AB 1580 will allow a parent, legal guardian or conservator to freeze the credit of a child under the age of 16. This is a significant step forward because credit bureaus do not typically shield a child’s credit record unless it has already been stolen.

“Children are the most sought-after target for cybercriminals and child identity theft is likely to go unnoticed for many years,” said Irwin, Chair of the Cybersecurity Select Committee. “I am pleased by today’s vote and the tremendous support that this bill has enjoyed from the entire Legislature.” The bill passed the Assembly by a 70-0 vote.  Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law.

Child identities are especially valuable to thieves because children do not have existing credit files and the theft often goes unnoticed until the child applies for a job, student loan or credit card. It is not uncommon for family members to commit ‘friendly fraud’, using the personal information of an underage relative to circumvent their own poor credit rating. AB1580, which also protects incapacitated adults, allows a parent or representative to directly contact the credit bureaus and submit a request for a freeze. The bureaus would then be prohibited from releasing credit information for that protected child, including to another family member.

“Children start out with a clean slate, which makes them the most sought-after target for cyber criminals,” said Irwin. “I introduced this legislation to give parents a way to protect our children. We have to fight for their future.”

The bill’s co-author, Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Utilities & Commerce Committee and the longest-serving current member of the State Assembly.  He represents California’s 43rd Assembly District, which includes Los Angeles, Glendale, and Burbank“In an era where hackers have stolen millions of records including names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers belonging to children, California needs to protect its youngest citizens,” said Gatto. “This change is long overdue.”

**Assemblymember Irwin’s website: http://asmdc.org/irwin