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Topics addressed on February 2, 2010:
Teenage college student should accept credit monitoring offer
My 17-year-old daughter just received an email from the university she is attending about a possible security breach on their admission registration files. The university is offering a one year free TripleAlert membership to her. My question is does she need it? I don't believe she has done anything to establish a credit record. She has a debit card but no credit cards. Other than opening and using a credit card, what else might trigger the creation of a credit record in any of the three credit companies?
She should consider accepting the free subscription to the TripleAlert credit monitoring service even if she doesn’t have a credit report. It is nice that the University is providing the service. If her identifying information was stolen and is used to apply for new credit, the service would alert her so that she could respond immediately.
It’s quite possible that she has a credit report, even if she doesn’t have a credit card. You don’t mention whether or not you have added her as an authorized user or joint account holder on one of your accounts. Doing so would establish a credit report in her name. Having a student loan would create a credit report, as well.
She also might have applied for credit at a retail store or local lender. Even if not approved, applying could establish a credit report.
The only way to know for sure is for her to request a report. She can get a free report because she is at risk of fraud. To do so, visit the online fraud center at www.experian.com. Follow the instructions to request a report and add an initial security alert. She will simply receive a notice that there is no record for her on Experian’s files if we have no credit report under her identification.
If there is a report, Experian will add a security alert to it and provide a copy to her.
The important issue is ensuring her identifying information is not being used to commit fraud. Subscribing to the alert service will provide peace of mind. If no alerts are received, you will know that she has not become an identity theft victim. If she does receive an alert, she can act immediately to stop the crime.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team