Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, lawmakers team up to protect kids from ID theft

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, lawmakers team up to protect kids from ID theft

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Parents are always looking for ways to protect their children but many have probably not considered protecting their kids’ identity.

More than 50,000 children across Florida have their identities ripped off every year and the thieves are stealing an estimated $100 million with that information.

Now Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is teaming up with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to push legislation designed to help parents protect their children’s identities.

The bill would allow parents to set up a credit record for their child and freeze it.

Sen. Detert said that would safeguard Social Security numbers and other personal details until children are ready to get a credit card.

“We have case after case that we’ve seen of even teachers stealing kids’ credit. Their Social Security numbers are out there and often used for school events and other events, so they’re susceptible to this crime.”

Sen. Detert said this is a new crime that a lot of parents are not aware of. The legislation would allow them to freeze their children’s credit with the three major credit reporting agencies for $10.

Putnam said ID thieves consider children prime targets.

“The reason why children are such an attractive victim is that you get a longer period of time to destroy their credit and to really wreck their lives if you steal a four-year-old’s identity and you can ride that false identity until that child is 16 or 17 or 18 and is first introduced to a credit card or a gas card or some other form of credit that finally reveals the fact that their identity was stolen many, many years prior, it makes them a more appealing target to thieves than adults.”

The credit freeze could remain until a parent or guardian decides the child is ready for a credit card.

The so-called KIDS Act (Keeping I.D. Safe) is projected to save Floridians more than $21 million a year.

A similar bill did not make it through the legislative process earlier this year, but Sen. Detert is optimistic the measure will pass in next year’s legislative session.

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