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Giving California Kids a New Way to Fight Identity Theft

Common Sense Kids Action supports AB 1580 because no child should suffer from identity theft.

Identity theft is a huge problem, affecting many millions of Americans and costing billions of dollars each year. Identity theft can destroy credit scores, ruin job and housing prospects, and make it impossible to take out a loan for school.

Unfortunately, the most attractive targets of identity theft are those whose futures are most at stake: our children. Childrens' identities have been used for credit cards, car loans, even mortgages. One study found a 5-month-old victim.

Why are kids such attractive targets? Sensitive information about children is widely available, both legally and through an ever-increasing number of hacks and data breaches. And, children offer clean credit histories and unused social security numbers, with little likelihood of prompt discovery of the theft. Often, the crime is not learned about until decades later, when a young adult is unexpectedly denied a college loan or the opportunity to rent an apartment or lease a vehicle. This can have a profoundly devastating effect on a young person's future.

And, while adults can take advantage of tools like credit freezes to try and prevent identity theft and its consequences, children often cannot. Though some states require agencies to freeze a child's credit, most do not. A bill by Assemblymembers Gatto and Irwin, AB 1580, aims to fix this, and give California kids this right.

Though a credit freeze is by no means a perfect tool, it is a powerful one. As kids' information is increasingly put at risk in our interconnected world, young people deserve the same tools available to the rest of us. California children should be able to freeze their credit and protect against identity theft. Common Sense supports AB 1580. We urge you to join us and sign up to advocate for kids!

Ariel Fox Johnson
Ariel Fox Johnson is Senior Counsel for Global Policy at Common Sense Media, where she advocates for smart practices, policies, and rules to help all kids thrive in today’s wired world. Her work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world. She frequently advises policymakers, industry, and tech experts, and has helped develop laws on student privacy, consumer privacy, and the Internet of Things. Ariel is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School. Prior to joining Common Sense, Ariel worked on privacy, media, intellectual property, and technology matters at corporate law firms, and provided pro bono assistance to nonprofits and asylum seekers.