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Updated: 2:19 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, 2014 | Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Georgia looks set to offer credit freezes for minors

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By Clark Howard

While the credit bureaus sit on their hands when it comes to child identity theft, several states have legislation that give parents a tool to prevent it from happening to their child.

When a child's identity is stolen, criminals can use their identity to buy homes, open new lines of credit, commit grand theft auto, and qualify for medical and government benefits. A recent study found that one in 10 kids has his or her identity stolen by the age of 18.

Child identity theft is one of the worst forms of identity theft because it often goes unchecked and unnoticed for years. Then when your kid goes off to college, suddenly he or she can't get loans or qualify under FAFSA because supposedly they're 37 years old and defaulted on a mortgage!

Delaware, Oregon, and Wisconsin are the latest to require the credit bureaus to have a procedure where parents can establish a credit identity in their child's name and then freeze it until the child becomes an adult. Their moves follow Maryland, which had the nation's first law to this effect.

Now Texas and Illinois are considering similar laws to protect kids. Utah lets parents designate kids as high risk to create the equivalent of an alert system, which is not as effective as a credit freeze.

Georgia, meanwhile, looks set to become the next state to put a law on the books allowing the parents of minor children to put a full credit freeze on their files.

HB 915 came out of the 2013-2014 legislative session and is now awaiting the governor's signature. The bill was passed by both Georgia's state house and state senate unanimously. Kudos too to Equifax for cooperating on this one! Read the full text of HB 915 here.

For the latest on stats that have credit freeze laws for minors on the books, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures.

When you get down to it, the credit bureaus really shouldn't wait for the states to take action with such an easy solution!

Meanwhile, is now offering a free service called  ChildScan. The service combs through credit records, employment records, criminal records, and medical accounts to find out if a crook has been using your kid's Social Security number.

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