Schlossberg seeks to strengthen credit freeze protections

HARRISBURG, Feb. 18 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, recently introduced legislation to combat identity theft by permitting a parent or legal guardian to obtain a security freeze on behalf of any minor or adult under their care.

The move would prevent credit reporting agencies from releasing credit information to a third party without prior authorization, said Schlossberg, giving parents and legal guardians access to a crime-fighting tool already in place for themselves.

"The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 10 percent of Americans have been the victims of credit card fraud, and that this illegal activity has cost the worldwide economy $5.5 billion in the past year alone," Schlossberg said. "The most frustrating and difficult type of credit fraud to track is often related to children, as the crime is usually not discovered until well after the fact."

Current Pennsylvania law allows individuals to obtain a security freeze. However, it does not make provisions for parents or guardians to obtain one for somebody in their care. Schlossberg’s legislation, H.B 452, would amend the Credit Reporting Agency Act to allow a qualified representative of a minor or such adult to obtain a security freeze on their behalf. 

"As a father of two young children, I understand that parents and guardians have enough to worry about without having to constantly monitor credit reports," Schlossberg said. "Protecting the credit identity of children and others under your care is critical, though, and this bill would give parents and guardians a tool to prevent credit fraud before it happens."

Schlossberg said he hopes his bill, which has 16 bipartisan cosponsors, will be taken up and passed by the House soon. Other states, such as Wisconsin, have established similar credit protections. 

"My wife and I, like countless families across Allentown and Pennsylvania, want to protect our children from the harmful effects of credit fraud," Schlossberg said. "This bill would give those families security and peace of mind by expanding a proven credit-fraud deterrent."