BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Eight hundred million. That’s how many identity thefts have happened in the US over the past few years.
Alex DeMetrick reports children are a major target.
They may have just arrived but it won’t take long for thieves to find them.
“It can be one day old. As soon as your child has a Social Security number he or she is ready to have his or her identity stolen,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
Stealing a child’s identity gives the thief advantages they don’t have with adults.
“And the thief can use that identity to open credit accounts and do all kinds of financial transactions years and years before anyone finds out about it,” Frosh said.
Nationally, one in 40 households has a child’s identification stolen. Children are targeted 35 times more than adults, generating a 300% increase in the number of complaints about child ID theft.
“We wanted to give every child in the state of Maryland an opportunity to define their own identity and not have someone else define one through ill intentions,” said Montgomery County Delegate Craig Zucker.
Zucker co-sponored the legislation enlisting all Maryland hospitals to help fight back.
“Stop child identity theft. These are going to be available in hospital waiting rooms, in physician offices across the state of Maryland,” said Carmella Coyle, Maryland Hospital Association.
To protect a child’s identity, parents must contact a credit reporting agency like Equifax. The parent enters the child’s identification and orders it locked up.
“You’re freezing the information around that person’s identity that protects them indefinitely until that freeze is taken off,” Zucker said.
If it isn’t protected, thieves can ruin their credit before they reach 18.