Assemblymember Irwin Introduces Bill to Protect Children Against Identity Theft

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to protect children against widespread identity theft, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) today introduced Assembly Bill 1553 into the California State Legislature. AB 1553 will require credit agencies to allow parents or guardians to create and then freeze a credit report for a minor child. A majority of credit agencies do not offer this service to California residents. AB 1553 will make it mandatory for all credit agencies to help parents and guardians freeze a credit report for their children.

“Identity theft is a huge problem that can wreak havoc on a person’s financial livelihood,” said Assemblymember Irwin, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Cybersecurity. “Many of those whose identities have been stolen at a young age do not realize their credit has been compromised until they are much older, for example when they apply for student loans or for a credit card.”

A recent report by Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab found that “10.2% of the children in the report had someone else using their Social Security number – 51 times higher than the 0.2% rate for adults in the same population.”  Identity thieves target children because they have clean credit reports and will be less likely to discover fraudulent use of their identities because they are unlikely to monitor credit reports as often as adults do.

One of the most effective ways to prevent identity theft has been to freeze a credit report.  Such a freeze prevents someone from opening an account with a frozen social security number unless the owner of the number authorizes it by “thawing” their credit report.  However, this strategy is difficult for children because a person must have a credit report in order to freeze it and most children do not have one.

Currently, there are 22 states that allow parents, legal guardians or those representing minors to place a security freeze on a minor’s credit report. “As an elected representative and Chair of the Select Committee on Cybersecurity, it is my duty to ensure that we are protecting Californians most valuable, private information,” remarked Assemblymember Irwin. “The fact that our children are especially vulnerable to these attacks is unacceptable and I urge my colleagues to enact this important defense against child identity theft,” said Irwin.