New law brings harsher penalties for identity theft of children

Mike Seals - April 28, 2021 11:03 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that would create harsher penalties for identity theft of a victim less than 18-years-old has been signed into law.

According to a 2018 child identity fraud study, more than 1 million children in the U.S. were victims of identity theft in 2017, resulting in $2.67 billion in losses and $540 million in out-of-pocket expenses for families.

The study says nearly two-thirds of the victims were under the age of seven.

“Identity theft is a widespread issue, but very few people realize how prevalent child identity theft is in our society,” Sen. George 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.”

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.

“Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of child identity theft victims are under the age of seven,” Burns said. “Unfortunately, I’ve even heard the tragic stories of the perpetrator being in the victim’s immediate family. We must hold these criminals accountable for their actions.”

Sen. George Burns authored Senate Bill 312, which would create harsher penalties for identity theft of a young victim.

Under the 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 bill was signed into law on Tuesday.

 

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