Florida’s House passed bill HB493 116-0 on Wednesday requiring the nation’s three consumer reporting agencies to allow Florida parents or guardians to open a credit record for their child and then freeze it. Florida had 21,581 identity-theft cases last year, more than any other state, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And an increasing number of those cases are thefts of children’s identities.
This would prevent identity thieves from using a child’s personal information to open fraudulent accounts or file fake federal tax returns on the child’s behalf.
“It’s going to protect every child in the state,” said HB493’s sponsor, state Rep. Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers.
Just in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, nearly 1,800 children’s identities were stolen in 2011 – a year before the Federal Trade Commission has since found that incidents of ID theft has more than doubled in South Florida, estimated Brian Zimmer, a consumer advocate fighting identity theft. He based his estimate on federal data.