How do I check to see if my children have open credit reports?
Experian does not knowingly maintain credit reports on minor children. However, a parent may add a child as an authorized user or joint account holder, in which case the minor may have a legitimate credit history.
The most common way for a child to have a credit report is for the parent to list the child as an authorized user on one of their credit card accounts. While not all lenders report authorized-user accounts to the credit reporting companies, many do. In those cases, the lender will report the account, creating a credit report using the minor's identifying information.
Typically, this is seen with teenagers who may need a way to make purchases when they are not with a parent. As a matter of convenience, parents will make them an authorized user so they can use the credit card.
Identity theft is another reason a child could have a credit report. A fraudster, who is sometimes a relative or guardian with access to the child's Social Security number, may apply for credit accounts or obtain services such as electricity or cellphone service in the child's name.
How to Check if Your Child Has a Credit Report
If you are concerned that someone may have fraudulently used your child's identification to open credit accounts, you can check to see if an Experian credit report exists for your child using Experian's minor request form. The form provides a detailed explanation of documentation you need to provide along with your request to verify your identity, such as:
- A copy of your driver's license or another government-issued identification card, such as a state ID card
- Proof of your address, such as a copy of a bank statement, utility bill or insurance statement
- A copy of your child's birth certificate
- Proof of guardianship, if not named on the child's birth certificate
- A copy of your child's Social Security card
You can submit your request and the documentation by uploading the information online at experian.com/upload. If you prefer, you can also mail the request and the documentation to:
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
After you have submitted your request to Experian, we will review our records to determine if we have a credit report for your child. You will be notified if Experian does, or does not, have a credit report for the minor. We will send a response to the email address you provided on the upload form or to your mailing address if you sent your request to us by mail. In many cases, you can expect a response within 10 to 15 days from when we receive your request.
Steps to Take if There Are Fraudulent Accounts on Your Child's Report
If your child does have a credit report as the result of fraudulent accounts, you will want to take the following steps:
- Contact Experian at the toll free number on the report and speak with one of our customer service representatives to explain that your child is a minor and to dispute any fraud-related items on the report.
- Place a security fraud alert on your child's credit report. An initial security alert lasts for 12 months. This alert will notify lenders that someone may be trying to use your child's information to obtain credit or services in their name fraudulently.
- File a police or identity theft report indicating that your child is a victim of identity theft. Send a copy of the report to Experian by mail or by uploading the document on our website.
- Contact the creditors using the contact information appearing on the credit report to notify them of the fraud.
- If you wish, you can also choose to freeze your child's credit file. Freezing their credit file is free, and prevents potential new lenders from accessing their credit report should someone attempt to apply for new credit in their name. Find out how to put a freeze on your childs credit report, there are several ways you may accomplish this.
Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist