A new day has dawned in the area of child credit freezes...and we have Equifax to thank for it.
For years, the credit bureaus were typified by inaction when it came to the issue of minor credit freeze. So it was left to the states to lead the way with legislation that gave parents a tool to prevent identity theft from happening to their child. That resulted in nearly 20 states putting law on the books allowing a parent to freeze a child's credit.
When a child's identity is stolen, criminals can use their identity to buy homes, open new lines of credit, commit grand theft auto and qualify for medical and government benefits. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, kids are 51 times more likely to be subject to identity theft than an adult! Another recent study found that one in 10 kids has his or her identity stolen by the age of 18.
Read more: Easy way to know if your account has been compromised
Child identity theft is one of the worst forms of identity theft because it often goes unchecked and unnoticed for years. Then when your kid goes off to college, suddenly he or she can't get loans or qualify under FAFSA because supposedly they're 37 years old and defaulted on a mortgage!
But here's the good news: Equifax is going beyond what's required by law and allowing parents to do put a freeze on their child's records in all 50 states! No word yet that either Experian or TransUnion have followed suit, but I'll let you know when they do.
Use a credit freeze to fight back against child identity theft
The remedy I recommend is a credit freeze. These states allow a parent or guardian to freeze their child's credit. Following Equifax's latest move, I'm hoping this will soon be a 50-state list!
- South Carolina
For the latest on stats that have credit freeze laws for minors on the books, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures. If your state *doesn't* allow a child credit freeze, you have to petition hard to get that changed. Here's a form letter to request credit freeze legislation for minors.
- Info on freezing a child's credit with TransUnion can be found here.
- Info on freezing a child's credit with Equifax can be found here.
- Info on freezing a child's credit with Experian can be found here.
Meanwhile, AllClearID.com is now offering a free service called ChildScan. The service combs through credit records, employment records, criminal records, and medical accounts to find out if a crook has been using your kid's Social Security number.
Read more: Warning: 5 Facebook scams to look out for!
For more money-saving info, see our Protect Your Rights & Identity section!