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Today, Governor Hickenlooper signed HB 1233 into law, which will give Colorado parents and guardians the authority to place credit freezes free of charge on the records of minors and individuals they legally represent starting January 1st, 2019.
“HB 1233 allows parents and guardians to place a credit freeze for free on their dependent’s credit information, which is one of the most important actions you can take to stop identity thieves from using your child’s information to commit identity theft,” says Danny Katz, Director of the consumer advocacy group CoPIRG.
In the wake of several high profile data breaches including a breach of 145 million consumer records at the credit reporting agency Equifax, credit freezes are a critical tool for consumers.
Credit freezes allow consumers to lock access to their credit history and scores, denying identity thieves the ability to open any fake accounts in their names. This is a particularly important protection for kids whose information has been compromised because it may be a decade before the child is old enough to enter the credit market only to discover that an identity thief has been using their personal information for years.
“HB 1233 gives parents and guardians a lock and key. Most importantly, the lock and key are free of charge. Parents and guardians should not have to pay to protect their children and dependents from problems they didn’t create. They should not be charged for doing the right thing and taking action to protect their child’s personal information,” says Katz.
CoPIRG applauds Governor Hickenlooper and the leaders in the General Assembly who brought this policy forward including Speaker Crisanta Duran (D), Representatives Polly Lawrence (R) and Kim Ransom (R), and Senators Steve Fenberg (D) and Bob Gardner (R).
Among the key provisions in HB 1233:
- Authorizes parents and guardians to place, lift, or remove freezes on the records that credit reporting agencies have for their children or their wards, described as protected consumers in the bill.
- If a credit reporting agency has not already created a record for the child or ward, it allows the parent or guardian to create a record so they can put a freeze on it.
- Requires credit reporting agencies to place, lift or remove freezes free of charge for those protected consumers.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of September 1st, 2017, 29 states have a similar law that gives parents and guardians the ability to place and remove credit freezes on those they represent.
CoPIRG recommends that every Colorado consumer place a credit freeze on their records at all three main credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian - even if you have to pay. Currently, Colorado law allows you to get one free credit freeze but Coloradans have to pay to remove the freeze and for subsequent credit freezes. As of the beginning in 2018 residents in four states – South Carolina, North Carolina, Maine, and Indiana – did not have to pay to freeze, thaw or unfreeze their credit information at any time. Since then Washington has joined them and other states are moving similar legislation.
In response to their data breach, Equifax is waiving any fees to place a credit freeze on Equifax credit reports until June 30th, 2018.
For more information and for tips and advice on how to place credit freezes including contact information, check out CoPIRG’s website.
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