Attorney General Doug Gansler wants to remind parents that a new law goes into effect on Tuesday to protect children from ID theft.
The law allows parents and legal guardians to place a security freeze on their minor child’s credit records that would prevent identity thieves from opening credit accounts in the child’s name. In a statement issued earlier this week, Gansler explains:
A study published in 2011 by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab found more than 10 percent of Social Security numbers belonging to minors already have an active credit record, with 76 percent of the credit activity being fraudulent. About one in 10 victims who contact the Maryland Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit are individuals who discover upon first seeking credit that someone had already opened a credit account using their name or Social Security number.
A child should not have a credit record unless someone has fraudulently opened a credit account in the child’s name. If the child has a credit record, the new law allows a parent to freeze the child’s credit record so that someone seeking to open new credit in the child’s name cannot access the credit report. If the child does not have a credit record, the parent may request that a credit reporting agency create a record that prohibits the agency from releasing information about the child to potential creditors. The new law similarly allows a guardian to place a freeze on the credit record of an individual under their care.
Parents or guardians may contact the three major credit reporting agencies to place a freeze:
Equifax: Submit a freeze request online on behalf of a minor at www.equifax.com, call 1-800-685-1111, or write to Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348. The requestor must submit their complete name, address, copy of a Social Security Card, or an official copy of a birth certificate, or a copy of a driver’s license, or any other government-issued identification, or a copy of a utility bill that shows name and home address. The same information is required of the minor on whom the freeze is being requested. Other information may also be required.
Experian: Submit a freeze request online on behalf of a minor athttp://www.experian.com/consumer/help/states/md.html, or write to: Experian, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: Submit a freeze request online on behalf of a minor athttp://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page, call 888-909-8872 or write to TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
The law is the first of its kind in the country.