Thursday, February 4, 2016

KY Senate panel wants to lock out child ID thieves

A measure to protect Kentucky’s children from identity theft passed the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary today.

Senate Bill 23, as amended in committee, would permit the parents and guardians of children and other vulnerable residents to place a “security freeze” on those citizens’ credit reports. Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, said security freezes are designed to prevent a credit reporting company from releasing one’s credit rating, thus preventing additional lines of credit from being opened.

“Identify theft occurs when criminals unlawfully gain access to someone’s personal information and steal it for their own financial gain – whether it is using someone’s Social Security number to open new accounts or illegally hacking into a banking account,” said Alvarado, who sponsored the bill. “All forms of identity theft can be serious.

“ … Obviously, it is not a new problem, but with so much of our personal information being stored electronically these days, the crime is happening more often – and especially to children.”

He said statistics about child identify theft are limited in part because children don’t become aware that their personal data has been stolen until they are old enough to apply for a driver’s license or credit card. The Child Identity Fraud Report of 2012, however, found that one in three households with children had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity criminals.

Alvarado said this past summer he was contacted by a constituent whose son had his identity stolen – ruining the 10-year-old’s credit. The father called the credit reporting agencies to place a security freeze on his son’s account only to learn Kentucky statutes do not permit parents to place freezes on their children’s accounts.

Alvarado, flanked by a representative from the Kentucky Retail Federation, said he prefiled the legislation in October 2015.

“The retail federation was kind enough to notice the bill and had some recommendations on language that would be more representative of the national norm for these types of legislation,” Alvarado said. “As a result a committee substitute was produced.”

SB 23, which is modeled after laws in 23 other states, now goes before the full Senate for consideration.