New Texas law cracks down on child identity theft

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by JIM BERGAMO and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

KVUE News Austin

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 6:02 PM

AUSTIN -- One of the new laws set to go into effect in Texas on New Year's day is designed to make it more difficult for children to become the victims of identify theft or credit card abuse.

Identify theft and credit card abuse is nothing new.  Lately, thieves have set their sights on an unlikely target: kids!

In a statement, Texas Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) said, "A staggering number of Texas children have fallen victim to illegal child identity theft, putting them at risk for credit problems before they ever reach adulthood."

Nelson helped get Senate Bill 60 passed into law.  It allows parents to create a security freeze on the consumer and credit files of their children 16 years or younger.

"Identity theft is, you know, every day and anyone, and it doesn't matter who you are," said Jeffrey Horowitz, an Austin resident. "It can happen when you least expect it, because I was thoroughly caught off guard."

Horowitz had his credit card information stolen just a few weeks ago, so he said he fully supports the new law.

"Kids need protection," he said. "I think something should be in place for those who don't know how to make decisions for themselves at an early age."

"Credit is so important in terms of qualifying for homes or anything else," said Hayden Stephen, a Pflugerville resident.  "I think having your credit protected at an early age will help you avoid any heartache later on in life."

Most people KVUE spoke to said they understood why the legislature passed the law, but some, including D'Ann Johnson of Austin, said they aren't sure it's the best way to go about it.

"There are parents who steal their children's identity, because they themselves have bad credit," said Johnson. "So, giving parents control over children's credit might not always be in the best interest of the child."

Go here for a summary and full details of Senate Bill 60.

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