ID theft law, gay marriage take effect

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

Same-sex marriage also will be allowed in Maryland this 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 Zucker, a Montgomery County 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 year that included two short special sessions.

The first in May was called to approve a budget plan that included income tax increases on single filers who make more than $100,000 and joint filers who make more than $150,000. It was called by Gov. Martin O’Malley after a similar plan fell apart during the Legislature’s regular session.

The second special session in August was held to expand gambling to include table games and approve a new casino site in Prince George’s County. Maryland voters approved the expansion in a statewide vote in November.

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