Embedded in a new law meant to loosen banking regulations is a provision that allows parents or guardians to place credit freezes on their children under age 16. This is seen as a breakthrough in protecting minors from identity theft and fraud.
Credit freezes for children are coming: Here’s what to expect
Money expert Clark Howard has been a big proponent of credit freezes as they offer the best protection against criminals opening new lines of credit. The stakes are even higher when the targets are kids, he says.
“Criminals target kids because they’re clean slates with clean Social Security numbers. Experts right now are seeing a lot of what’s called ‘synthetic’ identity theft, where a criminal uses a child’s Social Security numbers combined with a different date of birth, name and address,” Clark writes. “That allows them to fake that they’re an adult with that Social Security number to create a new identity for themselves.”
If you haven’t frozen your credit, here’s Clark’s Credit Freeze Guide, which will walk you through the steps.
For young people, the process is likely to involve creating a credit file. Up to this point, only certain states allowed parents to freeze their kids’ credit.
Before the legislation, which was passed by Congress last month, consumers had to pay fees ranging from nothing to $10 to unfreeze or “thaw” their credit, depending on their state of residence, but now that will also be free everywhere. The law is expected to take effect on September 21, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
There are some other goodies in store for Americans, according to the FTC:
Here are 3 things you can expect from the new consumer protection bill
- Along with free credit freezes, fraud alerts — which currently last only 90 days — will be extended to one year and be free, as well. Additionally, consumers will still be able to opt for seven-year fraud alerts.
- Come September, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian will all have a webpage on their respective websites for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes. The FTC will also post links to those webpages at IdentityTheft.gov.
- If you’re an active member of the U.S. military, within one year, the major credit-reporting agencies must offer free electronic credit monitoring to you.