Bill would combat growing child ID theft
Child identity theft is a fast growing crime that often isn’t discovered for years Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Wednesday.
He told the Assembly Judiciary Committee complaints about child identity theft are up 78 percent recently, but by the time the crime is discovered, the statute of limitations has expired. Assembly Bill 83 would extend the prosecution period for victims under 18 and allow charges to be filed within four years of when they discover the crime. Existing law limits prosecution to three years from when the crime occurs.
“The problem with children is they don’t know it happened,” Oceguera said.
He said a child’s identification may be stolen when they are as young as 11 months old.
“They’re probably not going to find out until 18 when they try to get a house or get a credit card,” he said. “I don’t believe children should be required to address a problem they don’t know about.”
Carlos Hernandez, 19, of Las Vegas, testified his identity was stolen when he was nine but he didn’t find out until age 18 when he applied for a loan. He said he has since been refused by the U.S. Navy because of DUI and domestic violence cases committed by the thief. He said a default mortgage and car loans as well as several other loans are on his credit record as well as a $4,000 debt to the Internal Revenue Service he is trying to straighten out.
He said he didn’t commit any of those credit problems or crimes but won’t be able to remove them from his records until IRS certifies that he is innocent.
“I have to wait and get a letter from the IRS that their investigation is completed and it’s not me,” he said.
Sgt. Anthony Aguillar of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said another case he is dealing with involved a young woman who was arrested and in jail 30 hours before officers agreed she didn’t fail to appear on charges of possessing stolen property.
He told the committee ID thieves get Social Security numbers from brokers who find them on the Internet and other records such as public school sports organizations. But he said they can also get them from mailboxes and by “dumpster diving.” He said what they are looking for is unused Social Security numbers because those typically belong to children. Foster children are victimized more often than other children because as they move from home to home, their Social Security numbers fall into the hands of numerous people.
He said parents can protect their children by checking their credit history and he urged parents to do so periodically.
“Kids shouldn’t have a credit history,” Aguillar said. “Credit history doesn’t exist until they establish credit.”
The committee took no action on AB83.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report