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Protecting kids’ identities

December 28, 2018

Minnesota is joining more than 30 other states in allowing families to freeze their children’s credit reports, giving them a new tool to prevent identity theft. When someone steals a child’s identity, it’s often not discovered for years -- until they prepare to take out a student loan or apply for their first credit card.

“It really was a situation where it’s becoming more and more prevalent for minor children to become victims of identity theft,” said Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, who has been advocating for the credit report freeze law for several years.

The issue landed on Petersburg’s agenda when a father in his legislative district moved to Minnesota and discovered he wasn’t able to ask consumer reporting agencies to freeze his children’s credit reports. A freeze restricts access and makes it challenging for a thief to set up credit accounts under someone else’s name.

More than 1 million children were identity fraud victims in 2017, and their losses totaled $2.6 billion, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research, a research-based advisory firm.

The new law enables someone who can prove they are acting on behalf a person younger than 16 to request a freeze. Starting Jan. 1, the credit reporting agencies will no longer be allowed to charge a fee when someone requests a freeze, asks to temporarily lift a freeze or remove the freeze. The fee removal applies to all Minnesotans, not just those under 16.

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