Freezing Your Child’s Credit: What You Need to Know
You might not think about this, but identity thieves really want your child’s Social Security number. If they get this number, they can do a lot, including buying a car, renting an apartment, opening a credit card account, or getting a mortgage. The Social Security numbers of children are great for the bad guys for several reasons:
- Generally, children have a clean record
- Crooks can use these numbers to obtain credit
- Kids usually don’t check out their credit reports until they go to college or buy a car or home. So, the crook can get away with it for years.
As a parent, you should think about putting a freeze on your child’s credit report. Why a freeze? Because credit monitoring isn’t enough. That doesn’t always stop a criminal from opening an account using your child’s Social Security number, but a freeze does.
- Doesn’t create a credit file for a child unless this is required by law or unless they become a victim.
- Parent gets a free copy of the child’s existing credit report.
- Could be a small fee unless the parent can prove the child’s identity was compromised.
- This is free to parents if they want to get the freeze.
- The child doesn’t have to already be a victim of identity theft.
- To request a security freeze with Equifax, you can contact them online or via phone at 1-888-298-0045
- Parents can check to see if their child has a credit file.
- Only some states allow credit freezes, and some fees might apply.
Innovis (A fourth credit reporting agency)
- A parent can freeze their child’s credit file, even if the state doesn’t allow it.
Again, not every state allows protection for a child’s credit. It’s important that you find out what your particular state’s requirements are. Some, for example, might only put a fraud alert on the child’s Social Security number. Other states only offer protection up to a certain age, like 16-years-old. Watch for these signs that someone could be using your child’s credit:
- You get a notice from the IRS that your child hasn’t paid income taxes.
- You get a notice from the IRS that your child’s SSN was used to file a tax return.
- You get collection notices in your child’s name for things they (or you) didn’t purchase.
- Government benefits are rejected because they are going into another account associated with your child’s Social Security number.