The state has worked the past few years to crack down on identity theft, and now one lawmaker wants to make it tougher to steal the identity of a child.

Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, told a legislative committee on Wednesday he favors a system that "locks" a child's identity when information about the child is first sent to credit bureaus, which usually occurs when the child gets a Social Security number. Without protections in place, an ID thief can have "a free ride" on a child's ID for years.

"One of the best places for a thief to look is in juveniles and especially infants," Hutchings told the Business and Labor Interim Committee. "When was the last time you took your 2-year-old in to have a credit report of any kind? And so for 15, 16, sometimes longer years, it's a free ride, and by that time, you have this whole false identity out there that has been created by your child's ID."

Hutchings had no draft bill but said he is hoping that "instead of being on the back end and helping victims that have already lost their identity, it helps you to go in and proactively lock your identity."

He likened the concept to a safety deposit box, with parents able to unlock and lock the child's ID as needed.

Assistant Attorney General Richard Hamp said "thousands" of Utah children have had their Social Security numbers compromised. Current legislation allows for credit freezes, but a measure could be put in place to prevent merchants' ability to access numbers when they attempt to access a credit report from a credit bureau, he said.

Hutchings expressed frustration with the current credit system.

"I think our whole credit system is completely backwards," he said. "We don't put locks on the doors until somebody breaks into the house. That doesn't make sense to me. I think we need to completely change it around in the state of Utah and lock the doors from day one, and if somebody still breaks in, then we deal with it in a different way after that."

The committee's cochairman, Rep. Stephen Clark, R-Provo, said the committee likely would support Hutchings' pending draft bill.

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