Wisconsin Child Credit Protection Act: What You Need to Know

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In late 2012 the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) released a report based on a survey they conducted finding that 1 in 40 households with children under the age of 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity criminals. This information is surprising because not a lot of people are familiar with the idea of children being the target of identity theft.

In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, the administrator of Wisconsin’s Division of Trade and Consumer Protection, Sandy Chalmers, said that a child’s Social Security number is very attractive to thieves, because there is no previous credit history associated with it. Having access to this information makes it easier for criminals to acquire credit cards, and take out loans unbeknown to the child, or parents. In turn, this can lead to damaged credit which can work against them in the future when buying a car, securing loans for college, or even being hired for a job.

The State of Wisconsin recently passed a law, Wisconsin’s Child Credit Protection Act, to address her point, and specifically prevent this problem.

The law essentially allows Wisconsin residents to authorize a credit bureau to create and instantly freeze a credit record for their child. This protective measure locks a child’s credit record until the age of 16 to keep criminals from stealing his identity and creating accounts in their name. This gives you, and your child, the peace of mind that they will enter their adult lives without a disadvantage that they may not even have been aware of.

To take advantage of the new protections:

  • Wisconsin parents, guardians or conservators can contact each of the three major credit reporting bureaus and ask them to create and freeze the report.

  • There is a $10 fee to the credit bureau for the service.

  • The requester will be required to submit documentation of their identity and their relationship to the dependent.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection provides an informative, and easy to follow page to help freeze your child’s credit. They also have instructions on what to do if you’ve found that identity fraud may have taken place.