Especially in today's age of accessible information, parents are more and more protective of their children's information. This is a wonderful thing because the more aware parents are of the risks to their children for identity theft, the less likely their children will become victims themselves.
If a situation occurs that could put your child's social security number in danger (stolen wallet, information breach, etc.) It is natural for a parent to protect their child using the steps that an adult would use on themselves. The thing that is important for all adults to understand is that the process for children is very different and can have negative results if attempted.
It is important to keep in mind that the credit reporting agencies do not know that a person exists until a credit report is started under their social security number. This usually occurs when credit is applied for, like for a credit card, cell phone, student loans, etc. Another way this can occur is if a parent requests a credit report on their child too often. By frequently inquiring into your child's social security number with Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, you run the risk of them viewing your credit checks like those done by a creditor. Checking once a year or even once every two years can start a credit history for your child at an age where they should not and cannot be applying for credit. The longer your child has inquiries but not credit on their credit report, the lower their perceived credit score goes. This will make it tougher for your child to apply for credit when they do turn 18 because it will appear that they have inquired for credit, but never received it.
In order to prevent this from happening:
- Do not check on your child's credit report unless there is evidence that fraud may be taking place. This can include:
- Receiving bills or statements under your child's name
- Being told your child already has a bank account when you go to open one
- Problems claiming your child on your taxes
- Personal information is lost or stolen.
- Check your child's credit report when they turn 16 ONLY if one of the above scenarios have occurred. Checking at 16yrs of age allows you time to clear up any fraud that may be occurring before your child turns 18.
Child identity theft is definitely becoming more prevalent on parents' radars as cases start to be revealed in the media. It is understandable for this concern, but as stated above a parent can do more harm than good if they are overzealous. For more information on child identity theft you can read the Identity Theft Resource Center's Fact Sheet on Child Identity Theft. If you still have questions you can always call our victim advisor center toll free at 888.400.5530.
If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center's Anyone3 fundraising campaign. For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.