COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday that he supports Ohio House Bill 317, which would allow parents or guardians to “freeze” a child’s credit record to help stop identity thieves from opening accounts in the child’s name.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon.
“To identity thieves, a child’s identity is a perfect target — a blank slate,” DeWine said. “With the right information, imposters can take out credit cards, loans, or even a mortgage in a child’s name, ruining victims’ credit before they’re even old enough to drive. This bill will help parents stop the problem before it occurs.”
The legislation would allow the parent or guardian of a minor under age 16 to apply a security freeze (or “credit freeze”) in the minor’s name. The security freeze would help ensure that credit is not inappropriately granted in the minor’s name.
Currently under Ohio law, an individual must have an existing credit report to apply a security freeze. Adults have credit reports, but children generally do not, meaning children cannot take advantage of the protections a security freeze provides.
Under HB 317, if a minor does not have a credit report when a security freeze is requested, the credit reporting agencies would create a “credit record” for the minor and then apply the freeze to that record.
Maag worked with DeWine’s Consumer Protection Section Identity Theft Unit in the development of HB 317.
“This concern was brought to my attention when a constituent of mine reached out and informed me that their child’s personal information had been stolen,” Maag said. “This is an important issue to address in Ohio, and I am grateful to work together with DeWine and his office to protect children’s identities.”
DeWine created the Identity Theft Unit in 2012 to help victims recover from the effects of identity theft, such as credit reporting errors and fraudulently opened accounts. Since its creation, the unit has received approximately 3,500 complaints.
Individuals who want help avoiding or recovering from identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call 1-800-282-0515.