Identity thieves target children in Florida

5:52 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - You may have taken all the steps to protect yourself against identity theft, but have you done anything for your children?

An estimated 500,000 children have their identities ripped off each year across the country and it's a growing problem in Florida.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam teamed up with Sen. Nancy Detert on Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to protect children from ID theft.

Putnam says ID theft impacts one of every 10 children. Thieves steal social security numbers and other personal information to qualify for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts and apply for loans.

Consider the case of Olivia. Putnam says she applied for a credit card when she went to college and discovered someone had used her social security number for 10 years.

"Had opened up 40 accounts, including credit cards, auto loans and mortgages. The suspect had committed fraud worth more than $1.5 million in her name - the largest amount of fraud ever committed using a minor's personal information.

Putnam says younger kids are most at risk.

"Identity thieves target younger victims because they can use their information undetected for a longer period of time. So the younger victims have become the biggest growing threat in this class of crime."

Sen. Nancy Detert is proposing legislation that would allow parents to freeze their children's credit score.

Their credit would remain frozen until they turn 18, or a parent or guardian removes the lock.

"These kids are going to have a tough enough life without starting out with bad credit and I think during the past economic bust we've all realized how important our credit is and how much it can hurt or help you," said Detert.

Currently, adults are allowed to lock their credit ratings, but that's not an option for children.

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