Consumer Alert: Should you place a security freeze on your child’s credit report?
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This consumer alert takes a look at identity theft. But we’re not talking about your identity. We’re talking about your kids.
We, as parents, have enough on our plates. But recently when I was talking to finance expert, Jarrett Felton, he told me stories that stopped me in my tracks. He told me he’s aware of cases in which people are completely unaware that their child’s identity has been stolen until the kid goes off to college and applies for a loan.
Felton’s own grandmother was a victim of identity theft as well. He says children and the elderly are often targeted by identity thieves.
“Those two groups or categories of people are probably more susceptible to identity theft and social security number hacking because they don’t have a big digital financial footprint out there. And that same footprint is very infrequently used,” said Felton. “How often is an eight year old going to get a credit card?”
He says parents should consider freezing your credit as well as their grandparents’ credit. It assures that a thief cannot open a new line of credit in your child’s name.
His words of wisdom really resonated with me. As many of you know, I adopted my two youngest children out of foster care. And someone recently used my children’s social security numbers to file their tax returns. That means their credit could be compromised as well.
So immediately, I tried to act on that advice. I first went to annual credit report.com. At that site, you can get a free credit report every seven days.
But you’re not able to pull a report for children under 13 without documentation that proves you’re the child’s guardian. So then I tried to pull a report for my 13-year old son, and I got a message indicating I need to call the credit bureaus. I called and learned that the reason I couldn’t pull my 13-year old’s report is because he doesn’t have one. That’s good.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends that if you suspect your child’s identity could be compromised, you should call all three bureaus and ask them to check whether a report exists. If it does, then you know your child’s identity has been compromised.
To freeze your child’s credit, you have to write the bureaus and send them documents like copies of their birth certificate and social security card. Click on each bureau for addresses and the documents required.