The State Senate Public Safety committee approved Senate Bill 312 on Monday, which would create harsher penalties for identity theft of a victim less than 18 years old.
“Identity theft is a widespread issue, but very few people realize how prevalent child identity theft is in our society,” Burns said. “Oftentimes, the theft isn’t discovered until the child reaches adulthood and attempts to open loans or credit accounts in their own name. It’s even more unfortunate when the perpetrator is the child’s own parent or family member. We must crack down on this type of theft.”
According to a 2018 child identity fraud study, more than a million children in the U.S. were victims of identity theft in 2017, resulting in $2.67 billion in losses and $540 million out-of-pocket expenses for families. Nearly two-thirds of the victims were under the age of seven.
Child identity theft has been further magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Child Identity Theft Resource Center reports numerous parents discovered their child’s identity was stolen when they were denied stimulus checks due to the child’s social security number already in use.
Under the proposed measure, the penalty for child identity theft or fraud would be a felony punishable by either two to 10 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $100,000, or both a fine and prison time. Currently, the penalty for identity theft or fraud is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison, or a fine not to exceed $100,000.
The measure now moves to the full Senate for approval.