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Topics addressed on September 15, 2010:
Protecting your children from identity theft
Identity theft is a growing problem for children. Can I put a security freeze on my three-year-old daughter's file even though there most likely is no activity? If this is not possible can I call to see if there is activity under her Social Security number?
There is a relatively common misperception that children are issued a credit report just like they are issued a Social Security number, at birth. In fact, a person doesn’t have a credit report until they obtain credit for the first time, and Experian doesn’t knowingly maintain credit reports for children. For those reasons, your daughter should not have a credit report.
There are a couple of exceptions. The first is if you included your daughter as a joint account holder or authorized user on one of your accounts, which clearly is not the case. However, it is not uncommon for parents to do so, especially for teenage children.
The second is identity theft or fraud. As a parent, you can request a credit report for your child; however, you may need to send documentation to verify you are the child’s parent or legal guardian. You can obtain instructions through Experian’s online fraud center or by calling 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) and selecting the fraud option or by following the prompts.
If Experian has no report on file, you will receive a notice to that effect. If there is a file using your child’s identifying information, we will provide the report, which will include instructions to receive assistance with fraud if necessary.
For peace of mind, even if your daughter has no credit file, consider subscribing to a monitoring service such as Experian’s ChildSecure, offered through ProtectMyID.com. The service scans not only credit history information, but also the Internet and other public records for use of your child’s identifying information and alerts you if any is found so that you can respond immediately.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team