While the credit bureaus sit on their hands when it comes to child identity theft, several states have legislation that give parents a tool to prevent it from happening to their child.
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. A recent study found that one in 10 kids has his or her identity stolen by the age of 18.
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!
Use a credit freeze to fight back against child identity theft
The remedy I recommend is a credit freeze, but not all states allow a parent or guardian to freeze their child's credit. At the time of this writing, the states that allow it include:
- 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.
When you get down to it, the credit bureaus really shouldn't wait for the states to take action with such an easy solution!
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.