Children & Credit Reports: What Parents Should Know
Help Safeguard Your Child From Identity Theft & Fraud
The experience of raising a child usually comes with twists and turns challenging your ability as a parent to keep them safe. Keeping them warm, fed, bathed, and clothed is usually at the top of the list, but have you ever considered protecting your child’s credit? While it may seem counterintuitive (after all, most minors don’t have a credit history), the reality is that identity theft can happen to anyone at any age. Checking their credit report is recommended to detect illegal activity. To protect your children against fraud, here are some things to keep in mind:
A security freeze is one tool you can use to restrict access to your minor dependent's credit reports. You'll need to provide documentation to verify their identity, your identity, and your ability to act on their behalf. In most cases, a credit profile might not exist for the minor, but one will be created for you to submit a Freeze Request through Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The freeze will remain on a credit file until you request its removal or the child is 18 and can request the removal on their own.
Kids Are Particularly Vulnerable
Children are susceptible to identity theft because no one expects them to be targeted. Unfortunately, a child doesn’t need a credit card or even a checking account to be a victim. If a thief obtains a child’s social security number, he or she can apply for loans, credit cards, and even file taxes (and get a refund). And, of course, much of this activity will be reflected on the child’s credit report.
Nip The Problem In The Bud
The fallout from identity theft can be damaging for anyone, but it’s especially hard for young adults. A spotted credit report can inhibit them from getting started in life, making it tough to obtain credit cards and home loans. But if you identify false or inaccurate information early, you may be able to stop it from causing a long-term financial headache.
Opportunity For A Money Lesson
While identity theft can be a worrisome topic, use the credit report check as a chance to teach your children about finances. Start a discussion about credit and how to properly use it. If you lay a strong foundation now, they’ll be more likely to make money-smart decisions when they get older.
What You Can Do
So how do you get started? Contact the three credit bureaus and ask them to run a manual search on your child.
Typically, children don’t have credit reports unless someone has obtained and used their information. If your child has false or incorrect information on their report, visit identitytheft.gov/child for information addressing the issue.
At First Source, we support learning good financial habits early and believe financial security is an important concept at any age. Our friends at Banzai have an extensive collection of articles, interactive coaches, and fun courses about Fraud and Security for ages 8 and up.
If you feel you or your child is a victim of a scam or fraudulent activity please contact one of our friendly Financial Service Representatives at 315-735-8571 or schedule an appointment today.
This article has been adopted from our friends at Balance. You may also be interested in the following articles:
Bring This Session To A Live Setting
If you would like to schedule our Community Educator for a seminar or workshop for any Financial Friday educational topic, please email your request to FinancialEducation@fsource.org