Children and Identity Theft

A new law, effective this New Year’s Day, will make it more difficult for children to become the victims of identity theft or credit card abuse.  Senate Bill 60 is the result of a recent rise in children being targeted for such offenses.

A child’s social security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.

Children are an especially vulnerable population to identity thieves, who consider a child’s personal identifying information more valuable than that of an adult.  This is because adults are more likely to be keeping tabs on their information. Adults monitor bank statements, pay bills, shop with their credit cards, all of these things that are likely to alert someone to identity theft.

The new law allows parents to freeze the consumer and credit files of their children 16 year of age or younger.

According to the Federal Trade Commission there are warning signs that your child’s credit has been compromised. For example, you or your child might:

  • be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
  • get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
  • get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive
Lisa Steffek

About Lisa Steffek

Lisa Steffek is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. Lisa completed her Bachelors, Masters and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Texas in Human Development and Family Sciences. As an undergraduate, Lisa worked as a research assistant studying child attachment. Lisa also worked for several years at The Settlement Home, a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescent females. Most of the girls at The Settlement Home had been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services, and Lisa worked with the girls to teach them life-skills and provided psychological treatment to prepare them for adulthood and the transition to foster homes. Lisa also worked for six years in various academic capacities at the University of Texas, including an undergraduate teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, and undergraduate writing consultant. Lisa has presented papers regarding human development at various academic conferences in the states and abroad, and has had her writing published in an international, academic journal.

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