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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Petersburg (R)

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PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN FROM CYBER THIEVES

Friday, March 09, 2018

During my time in the Minnesota House, I’ve found some of the best ideas for legislation happens through conversations with constituents.

 

Some time ago, an Owatonna resident contacted me with his concerns about identity theft. He wanted a means to protect his kids from cyber thieves, but in Minnesota that opportunity did not exist.

 

This is why I sponsored legislation giving parents the right to obtain a security freeze for their children. It will be debated on the House floor next week.

 

We hear about cyber theft all the time. We may change passwords often to lower the odds that our personal information will be stolen, but what about our kids? Studies are showing that thieves view them as low-hanging fruit; most parents don’t think about monitoring their children’s identities, which lessens the likelihood that they’ll be caught. Once that child’s credit history is shot, think of all the unwanted headaches he or she is going to face after leaving home.

 

My bill gives parents the opportunity to freeze credit history reports given out by consumer reporting agencies for their minor child, giving them more control over who is able to access a credit check on their kids. Without a valid credit history reputable financial institutions won’t issue credit.

 

Check out some of the startling statistics: one report on child identity theft found that the youngest victim was five months old, and that more than 300 victims were under the age of five. The largest fraud committed was against a 16-year-old girl, at $725,000.

 

As stated previously, these statistics show that identity thieves are targeting children due to the value of unused Social Security numbers, and those numbers are expected to rise.

 

More than 20 states have enacted similar legislation, and with the growing amount of cyber theft occurring in America today, parents should be allowed to make this proactive decision if they choose. This legislation will give them that opportunity.