ST. PAUL – With commercials for IdentityForce, LifeLock, and Watchdog running continually between television shows, on the radio, and online, most adults have become well versed in how to protect themselves from identity theft.
State Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca) authored a bill that Governor Mark Dayton signed into law earlier this year that will aid parents in protecting their young children from identity theft, specifically in cases involving credit. The bill had passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
“The need for the bill is a result that you can’t freeze and account that hasn’t been created yet and because individuals 16-years-old and younger don’t have the legal authority to do so,” Petersburg told the People’s Press. “This bill gives parents and legal guardians the authority to request the reporting agencies to first create the account and then freeze it. Once a child reaches 16-years-old, they can take over the control of the freeze.”
According to Petersburg, the number one growing attack on identity theft is occurring toward minor children. Research has shown cases with children as young as 4-years-old with as much as over $200,000 in fraudulent use.
“Who would think about checking their kids’ credit history?” Petersburg said.
Because minors are not supposed to be given credit, credit bureaus do not create files for them. The new law will allow guardians of a minor can create a record and then immediately place a freeze on the distribution of that file. A “security freeze” is a notice placed on a consumer report that stops information about the consumer form being released by a credit reporting agency in connection with a new account opening or extension of credit.
“With the growing amount of cyber theft occurring in America today, parents should be allowed to make this proactive decision if they choose,” Petersburg said. “This legislation gives them that opportunity.”
If a child is already the victim of identity theft, the Minnesota law requires the credits bureaus place a freeze on their account within three calendar days – a change made by the Senate instead of the currently required ten days. The law also requires that there be no cost for taking this action.
Minnesota is now the 28th state that allows parents to place a credit freeze in their child’s name. There are no federal laws for minors regarding credit freezes, so states are left to determine their own policies.
“I want to thank Matt Sennott [of Owatonna] for bringing this need to my attention and working with me on getting t passed,” Petersburg added. “He provided a lot of research that he had already done and stayed in contact throughout the whole process.”