Credit Advice

Protecting children from identity theft

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Credit Advice

Protecting children from identity theft

Dear Experian,

I read that children are also victims of identity theft. I would also like to protect their identity but fraud alerts are not available through any of the credit bureaus. What are your comments or suggestions?

- NJA

Dear NJA,

Children can be victims of identity theft. However, Experian does not have a credit report until they or someone else applies for credit using their identifying information. So, children rarely have credit reports. Because they do not have reports, Experian cannot add a fraud alert.

But that doesn’t mean Experian is not doing anything to protect children from fraud, or that there is nothing you can do. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

For instance, Experian will not provide a credit report to a lender if our records indicate the report belongs to a minor. Instead, we send a notice to the lender that states the report they requested is associated with a minor. At that point, the lender can stop the transaction, protecting the child from credit fraud.

You can also subscribe to Experian’s FamilySecure.com credit monitoring service. The service will alert you that your child’s identifying information was used in an attempt to get credit, even if they don’t have a credit report.

Most of the time the victim of identity theft did nothing wrong. Someone with access to their information decided to use it in a criminal way. However, there are some basic, common sense things you can do to help minimize that risk:

Monitor your mail, and be suspicious if materials such as offers for pre-approved credit cards show up in your child’s name. Suspicious credit documents could be cause for alarm.

  • Monitor your child’s online activity, particularly if your child is frequenting social networking sites and/or chat rooms and making online purchases. Educate your child about the importance of keeping personal information – such as last name, address, etc. – private when sharing information online.
  • Educate your child about unsolicited email scams – “phishing” emails – that ask for personal information. Be certain that your child knows to delete fraudulent emails of this sort.
  • Don’t allow children to carry their Social Security cards in their wallet or backpack and don’t carry them in yours. Instead, retain ownership of these cards, and keep them in a safe place.

Also, don’t forget to talk to your child with age appropriate guidance about how to protect themselves from fraud.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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