By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With a New Year, comes new laws — and one of them is for your kids.

WCCO’s Kate Raddatz found what parents can do now to protect their children from identify theft.

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New state legislation allows parents to freeze credit reports for children — even before they have credit.

“Kids identities are stolen. and few Americans even realize it’s an issue,” Elijah Kovar from Great Waters Financial said.

A study showed that more than one million children were victims of identity theft in 2017.

Minnesota’s new child ID protection law ensures that thieves can’t pretend to be a minor and take out a new line of credit in their name.

“They might be 10. Someone steals their identity somehow, opens a credit card, racks up debt; they might be 18, it might be eight years before it catches up to them, and the thief is long gone,” Kovar said.

Technically, Congress already beat Minnesota to the measure.

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In September, a federal law went into effect, allowing adults to freeze their credit for free — and for their children. The change was made in light of the 2017 Equifax breach that released the personal information of millions of Americans.

“Identity theft is still the fastest growing crime in America,” Kovar said.

But now, the state law will align with the rest of the country.

Starting today, credit agencies will have 30 days to comply with a parent’s request to freeze their child’s credit. But before you think about freezing your child’s credit, experts recommend prioritizing freezing your own credit first because the majority of identity theft still happens to adults.

“If the credit bureaus can’t even keep that information safe, who can?” Kovar said.

A good tip is to remember to check to see whether your child has a credit report close to their 16th birthday.

That way you have enough time to correct any errors due to fraud before before they would need to apply for a car loan or college tuition.

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Remember, you also have to lift the credit freeze before your child can apply for credit.

Kate Raddatz