I was reading an article this past weekend that really made me think about how vulnerable children are when it comes to ID theft and their credit.
To summarize what I read, a young woman had her identity stolen when she was 11 years old, but didn’t find out about it until she rented her first apartment at age 19! It took her several years to correct this horrible misdeed, not to mention making it very difficult for her to get credit anywhere.
When you think about this, it makes perfect sense: Children have clean, perfect credit and social security numbers. If ID thieves can get their hands on this information, who knows when this theft will be noticed. Your child will be doomed from the start. Unless a parent adds them early to one of their credit cards; a child probably won’t start establishing credit until they go to college.
A safe and prudent thing to do would be to put a credit freeze on your child’s credit report. Equifax will let parents initiate a report and then freeze it (go to www.freeze.equifax.com or call them at 800-685-1111). TransUnion (877-322-8228) and Experian (888-397-3742) will place the freeze on a minors report only if a credit report already exists on the child.
Other ways to be proactive is to keep an eye out for free credit cards and other credit-like information coming through the mail in the name of your child. This is a sign credit has already been established, and you should then contact the credit reporting agencies immediately.
If you child has internet access, you should sit down with them to make sure they understand not to give too much of their personal information on line.
Until, you do put a freeze on their credit, you should check with the credit reporting agencies annually to make sure there is not a credit report in your child’s name.
Taking steps now, will keep your child’s credit clean for when they do become financially independent and save them from a lot of heartache and difficulties down the road.