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Giving California Kids a New Way to Fight 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!