Identity Theft Protection
On January 1, a new law gave North Carolinians the ability to put in place an identity theft protection for their children or adults under their guardianship.
I was proud to sponsor House Bill 607 with Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) in 2015, and now we want everyone to know about this important law.
In the past, the major credit bureaus have said that they could not freeze credit reports for minors who had not yet established any credit. The new law requires credit bureaus to create and freeze a child’s credit report upon request of a parent or guardian.
Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a press release that “A security freeze locks down your credit report to keep identity thieves from opening accounts and racking up debts in your name. Identity theft can strike victims of any age and now parents can protect their kids’ credit from the very beginning.”
I would add that North Carolinians can use this provision to protect the credit of an adult over whom you have guardianship. This is an important opportunity to protect a sibling who is developmentally disabled or a parent suffering from memory loss. Putting a credit freeze in place is a proactive step to stop elder abuse or fraud.
A security freeze or credit freeze is one of the best ways to keep criminals from being able to take out a loan or open a credit card in someone else’s name. A freeze blocks access to credit unless you have given your permission, meaning that a criminal who has stolen a social security number will not be able to use it to open new accounts.
Here are the steps you can use to set up a security freeze:
- Request a security freeze for your child under age 16 by mail (online access should be available soon). Visit ncdoj.gov/creditfreeze for contact information.
- To lift a freeze permanently or temporarily, use the PIN or password established when setting up the freeze.
- It may cost up to $5 per credit bureau to place or lift a freeze on a child’s credit.
- A freeze is free if the individual already has a credit report or has been a victim of identity theft.
Adults in North Carolina adults can already freeze their credit reports for free online with each of the three major credit bureaus, with information available at ncdoj.gov. Once your credit is frozen, you can thaw it when needed to take out credit yourself.
The new law includes a provision that new parents be informed of the process for setting up a security freeze when they are given their child’s birth certificate. Other parents are likely to only find out about this opportunity through media reports or word of mouth. So please help spread the word.
Moving forward, I am hopeful that we will be able to work with the credit bureaus and the Department of Social Services to provide a security freeze for free to all North Carolina foster children.
For more tips on protecting your identity and cleaning up the damage ID theft can cause, visit ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.
Graig Meyer is the State Representative for House District 50, covering portions of Orange and Durham Counties. He can be contacted at email@example.com.