More than a year after my first NewsMom blog on the topic, we finally aired the TV version of “How I Forced the Bureaus to Freeze My Child’s Credit.”
The two-part TV news series (below) was followed by a first-of-its-kind #FacebookLive chat where thousands gathered to ask me questions about child ID theft and the child credit freeze process.
I have to say, this had been a long time coming, and the reaction is overwhelming.
Part of the delay in airing this story was figuring out how to translate the complicated topic to TV. As you might imagine, it’s difficult to find visual elements when you’re talking about a credit freeze. So I spent a small fortune on a puzzle map, chalk board, letter blocks and a toy cash register, grabbed my iPhone and my 2-year old, and came up with this.
If nothing else, my kid got a bunch of new toys out of the story… but I’m optimistic this coverage will ultimately lead to better protections for kids nationwide. Continue reading below for details on pending legislation that could ultimately close the child credit freeze loophole.
PART 1 – The Child Credit Freeze Loophole
Your kids may be at greater risk for ID theft than you. The good news is that there is a tool to prevent anyone from opening credit or taking out loans in their name. The bad news: The credit bureaus won’t let you use it to protect your kids! Here’s why the bureaus still won’t let you freeze you kids’ credit in most states and the new law that may change that.
PART 2 – How To SAFELY Freeze Your Kids’ Credit
Kids’ unused Social Security numbers are a goldmine for thieves. Here’s how the bureaus may be putting your kids at greater risk… And—for the first time—how to safely freeze your kids’ credit, step by step.
Read the full story at CBSSF.com:
Children may be at greater risk than their parents of identity theft, but the fix could expose them to even more risk. Now there’s a process to safely freeze their credit.
The Back-Story #ReportersNotebook
Over a year ago, I set out to create a how-to guide for parents to protect their kids from ID theft. Specifically, I wanted to show them how to freeze their kids’ credit.
In my first-ever NewsMom blog, “Why My Toddler Has a Credit Card,” I shared a KPIX story I produced in 2014 about child ID theft and credit freezes. In it, I detailed how I was shocked to learn that the credit bureaus refuse to let most parents freeze their kids’ credit even though kids may be at greater risk for ID theft than adults. A credit freeze is widely believed to be the single best tool to prevent ID theft.
Since then, tens of thousands of kids’ identities were exposed during last year’s massive insurance and government hacks.
Not one to take no for an answer, I found a work-around that forced the bureaus to let me freeze my toddler’s credit. By adding her as an authorized user on my credit card, I created a credit file in her name that I could then freeze.
But my proverbial pat on the back was short lived. In “How I Forced the Bureaus to Freeze My Child’s Credit,” I detailed how I discovered the bureaus themselves were actually putting children AND parents at risk.
So, after months of going back and forth with media reps from all three bureaus, I got them to provide work-arounds that finally allowed me to create a step-by-step guide on how to protect kids from ID theft with a credit freeze. It includes a summary of hard-to-find contact information, tips, sample documents and details on how to avoid security risks specific to each bureau.
Twenty-three states have already passed individual state laws requiring the bureaus allow parents to freeze their kids’ credit in those states. California is not yet one of them.
However, after reading these NewsMom blog posts, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced the child credit freeze legislation AB 1580 this year. For the first time, it would give California parents the right to freeze their child’s credit and utilize the single best tool to prevent financial ID theft.
In “NewsMom Blog Prompts Child Credit Freeze Legislation,” I shared Gatto’s hope that the California law will ultimately impact the rest of the country. “You know, if California acted, one-tenth of the population would have this protection and we’d probably get a federal law.”
ID theft experts from the Federal Trade Commission, the Identity Theft Council and many more believe parents nationwide deserve the same rights. So, I’ve begun sharing our stories with federal lawmakers.
Rhode Island Congressman James Langevin introduced H.R.1703 – Protect Children from Theft Act of 2015 last year. Not only would it amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to allow all parents to freeze their children’s credit, but it could also ultimately require a more secure method for submitting sensitive information to the bureaus.
However, the federal legislation was introduced nearly a year ago and was sent to the House Financial Service Committee, where it is still waiting to be heard.
After seeing our stories, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier recently signed on to the federal child credit freeze legislation and has committed to pushing it though. But as you likely know, nothing is simple in Washington.
Up next, we’ll be reaching out to Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, to find out why he’s allowed the child credit freeze legislation to stall in his committee for over a year, and we’ll try to get a firm ETA on when he’ll actually add it to the calendar.
Got more questions about child credit freezes?
Skim through this #FacebookLive chat that we hosted immediately after our Child Credit Freeze Stories ran.
We answered a TON of viewer questions about child credit freezes!
Or feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter!
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