Credit Advice

Responding when daughter's debit card is "skimmed"

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Credit Advice

Responding when daughter's debit card is "skimmed"

Dear Experian,

My daughter has a debit card, which was recently "skimmed." I would like to get a copy of her credit report, but she is a minor. Can you tell me how to go about getting one or all three free credit reports for her?

- PTO

Dear PTO,

Skimming is a technique used to capture information from the magnetic stripe of a person’s credit or debit card. The instances I am most familiar with have taken place in restaurants.

A waiter or waitress simply carries a battery operated reader in their pocket. When they take your card to pay the bill they discretely swipe it through the reader. The captured information is later transferred into a computer and used to create a fake card which can be used to make purchases or the information can be copied and sold to others.

In this instance, your daughter’s credit history is not likely to be affected because a debit card was used, not a credit card. Debit card information does not appear on a credit report.

Usually, skimmers are most interested in creating fake cards to make fraudulent purchases, rather than stealing your identity to apply for new credit. Magnetic stripe information is rarely used for that purpose.

Many banks and credit card providers have taken steps to reduce the risk you face from skimmers by minimizing the information contained in the magnetic stripe. By including only the minimal amount of information needed to use the card for transactions, the risk of identity theft by skimming can be greatly reduced.

For instance, the information may not include your name, address, or Social Security number. Without that information, the person who used the skimmer might be able to make a fake card that can be used for purchases, but they won’t be able to reproduce your identity to apply for new accounts.

It still is a good idea to add a temporary security alert, also called an initial security alert to your daughter’s credit report, if she has one.

You can request a fraud alert by visiting Experian’s online fraud center or by calling 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) and selecting the fraud option. The alert will be shared with the other national credit reporting companies.

Because your daughter is a minor, she may not have a credit history. You will receive a message stating Experian has no record on file if that is the case. You may also receive a notice that the information you provided belongs to a minor and so no credit report can be provided without first receiving documentation that you are the parent or legal guardian. If so, specific instructions regarding the necessary documentation and where to send it will be provided so that you can get your daughter’s report.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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