A bill that's already passed the South Carolina Senate and is now on the House calendar would allow parents to put preemptive security freezes on their children's credit reports, even though they don't have credit reports yet. A lot of parents are worried because of the hacker who stole the personal information of more than 4 million taxpayers and businesses last year.
Rachael Stephenson of Columbia says, "My husband and I both were hacked, and obviously since we were hacked our children were too. Their Social Security numbers are on all our tax returns. And so that's a huge concern for us."
Right now, they can put security freezes on their own credit reports. A security freeze prevents anyone from accessing their credit reports or opening new lines of credit in their names without specific permission from them. But since children are too young to have credit, they don't have credit reports, so there's nothing on which to put a security freeze.
Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, introduced the bill after she got concerned about her own two grandsons and the possibility of their Social Security numbers being stolen. If someone had their numbers, they could use them to get all kinds of credit and ruin their credit ratings long before they would even know there was a problem. "Let's think about how much trouble it is for us to try to get our credit fixed, and then here they are trying to start out and their credit's ruined," she says.
The original bill would have allowed parents to place preemptive security freezes on their children's credit free of charge. But the House amended the bill to include a fee of up to $5. The bill passed the Senate but ran out of time in the House before lawmakers adjourned for the year in June. It's now on the House's calendar for the first day they go back into session in January.
"A bill like that would be great," Stephenson says. "It would mean that my kids would be protected and their futures could be protected."
You can learn more about how to put a security freeze on your credit from the Department of Consumer Affairs here.
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