Under the Dome

ID theft law protects credit for children, disabled adults

As Rep. John Hardister said Wednesday, sometimes the best bills are the ones that don’t make headlines because they aren’t controversial.

Case in point: identity-theft legislation sponsored by Hardister, a Republican from Greensboro, and Rep. Graig Meyer, a Democrat from Hillsborough who came up with the idea, that would protect the credit ratings of those who have limited ability to do so on their own.

House Bill 607, which cleared the General Assembly in unanimous votes and was signed into law by the governor a week ago, allows representatives of children and adults who have legal guardians to place or remove security freezes on their credit.

Identity theft from minors is a growing problem, the lawmakers said in a news conference held to spread the word about the new law, which takes effect in January. In some cases, parents have belatedly discovered that their teenager’s credit rating has long since been ruined by someone who has stolen their Social Security Number.

"Children are the perfect victims for identity theft," Hardister said. "Years later, it’s like a horror story. It can be devastating. This could improve the lives of millions of people in North Carolina."

Under the new law, when parents receive their child’s birth certificate they will also receive instructions on how to go about freezing their child’s credit if they choose.

Meyer said disability rights groups, the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General’s Office will help publicize the protection. He said representatives from the attorney general and the N.C. Retail Merchants Association helped write the bill.