A 2011 law passed in Colorado extended significant identity theft protection to many kids in the state’s foster care system, but now one state Senator wants to expand its reach.
Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in the Colorado state senate that would expand the law to cover not only kids in the state’s foster care program, but also those who are in the custody of the state’s Division of Youth Corrections, and mental hospitals, according to a report from the Centennial Citizen. Anecdotally, many who have participated in the system have told stories of having their Social Security number compromised to obtain credit, and typically these incidents take years to discover because in many cases, when kids are affected, they have no reason to suspect there’s outstanding credit in their names until they turn 18 at the earliest.
Data shows that, in general, those people participating in the state’s foster care system are three times more likely to be hit with identity theft than those who are not, the report said. That may be a function of there simply being far more information out there available to various people, especially those who have access to records because of their similar participation in the program.
“Biological parents, foster parents, people in the system,” State Sen. Linda Newell, a Democrat representing Littleton, told the newspaper. “They’re just more exposed.”
The proposed legislation will expand the 2011 law so that more kids are able to gain free access to multiple credit reports every year, so that they can verify that everything is as it should be, the report said. Currently, the state law allows for just one. Further, if there are any signs that something to do with their credit is amiss, those young people will also have access to additional assistance from the state.
“The steps Colorado is taking toward protecting children from identity theft are commendable, but once again this is remedial as opposed to proactive,” says Credit.com’s Co-Founder and Chairman Adam Levin. Levin supports a concept originally proposed by the Identity Theft Resource Center that would create a national registry of children under the age of 17 years 10 months (much like the Social Security Death Index). Every time a consumer would apply for credit, in addition to running a traditional credit report, the lender would be required to run the application against the registry. If a Social Security Number came up, it would be considered a red flag.
The Colorado law is expected to receive little opposition, the report said. Republicans almost universally supported the 2011 bill, and more of the same is expected this time around because so many lawmakers simply understand how important identity theft protection, particularly for children in the state’s care, has grown.
Identity theft is a problem affecting millions of people across the country, of all ages, every year. Many state and federal initiatives are now under way to help limit the amount of damage this type of crime can do for consumers affected by it.