- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland law enabling parents to better protect their children from identity theft is among several taking effect next week.

Same-sex marriage also will be allowed in Maryland next week, and another new law taking effect on Tuesday will allow veterans to show that status on their driver’s licenses.

The child identity theft law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, will allow parents to freeze their child’s credit any time. Credit agencies have been required to place a security freeze on the credit of anyone who requests it. But they have been able to refuse to lock the credit of those who do not have a pre-existing credit report. That has presented problems for children, because if they have a credit report they likely already are a victim of fraud.

Delegate Craig J. Zucker, Montgomery Democrat who sponsored the bill this year, noted that it also will benefit elderly and developmentally disabled residents who could become victims of identity theft.

Identity theft can be a big problem for children, because they usually don’t learn they are victims until they are older, when they apply for a credit card or a loan.

The law will apply to a person younger than 16 at the time of a request. It also will apply to an incapacitated person who has a legal guardian.

A consumer reporting agency would be required to place a security freeze after receiving the request.

Parents will have to opt in to trigger the credit freeze. A consumer reporting agency will be required to place a security freeze after receiving the request. Parents or guardians will have to contact a credit agency and provide proof of identification for the person they want to protect, such as a Social Security number or birth certificate.

Meanwhile, some Maryland couples are preparing for New Year’s Eve celebrations leading up to the Jan. 1 effective date of the state’s new law allowing same-sex marriage. Some couples have already received marriage licenses in advance to fulfill a required 48-hour waiting period, so they can be married officially at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1.

All but several laws approved by the General Assembly in 2012 already have taken effect, after a busy year that included two short special sessions.

The first special session in May was called to approve a budget plan that included income tax increases on single tax filers who make more than $100,000 and joint filers who make more than $150,000. It was called by Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, after a similar plan fell apart in the waning hours of the legislature’s regular session in April. The second special session in August was held to expand gambling to include table games such as blackjack and a new casino site in Prince George’s County. Maryland voters approved the expansion in a statewide vote in November.

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