How to protect your kids coming from identity theft

Freezing your credit after Equifax hack...not so easy

After the data breach at Equifax last month in which 145 million people’s Social Security numbers along with different personal details were accessed, millions of adults have taken steps to protect their credit information.

Perhaps you locked your credit down through a freeze, fraud alert or different protection service. Maybe the idea took several tries or cost you money you didn’t intend to spend, nevertheless once you settled on a protection, you may have sat back with satisfaction thinking you’re all set.

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nevertheless, what about your kids? What can you do to protect them coming from identity fraud?

First, the not bad news: the idea can be very unlikely which your child was affected by the Equifax breach.

Since the hack involved taking Social Security numbers along with different information coming from active credit reports at Equifax, along with minors, as a rule, do not have active credit reports, your child’s Social Security number most likely would likely not have been taken This kind of way.

Testifying in a congressional hearing, the former CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith said there are no known victims who are minors.

“There has to be credit activity for a file to be made,” says Eva Velasquez, the president of the Identity Theft Resource Center, “along with minors don’t or can’t actively seek credit, therefore no credit file should exist.”

nevertheless here’s the bad news: The personal information of minors can be at risk in different ways, along with the strongest shield to protect their credit — a credit freeze — can be often only considered after they’ve already been the victim of identity fraud.

Here’s what you need to know along with how to proactively protect your child’s identity:

Common misconceptions

Many people incorrectly assume which a credit report can be activated when you receive a Social Security number, as a child often does soon after birth.

A credit report can be activated only when a person applies for credit. You’re hoping which person will be your child, sometime down the line. nevertheless, if your kid’s Social Security number falls into the wrong hands, the idea can be used by someone else to open accounts.

“Theoretically minors are not supposed to have credit reports,” says Velasquez. “the idea can be compiled based on your behavior from the lending along with credit world.”

Any credit involves a contract along with minors are not legally allowed to sign contracts. In addition, according to the Credit Card Act of 2009, anyone under 21 needs a co-signer just to get a credit card, unless they can document they contain the income to repay the debt.

There are exceptions, of course. A family may add an older child as an authorized user on their credit card. If the parent has not bad credit, the older child can “piggy-back” on This kind of along with gain some of which positive credit history. nevertheless not all cards report which activity on the minor’s behalf to the credit agencies.

Preventative measures

To thieves, a child’s Social Security number can be golden, because they can launch a credit file coming from scratch.

“the idea can be the long game,” says Velasquez of these thieves. “They make a credit inquiry along with they keep building the idea, basically creating a fake person, when the real person can be 3 or 5 or 14.”

If which happens, your child may go to get her first driver’s license along with find out she already has several citations along with unpaid parking tickets. Or when he goes to get a student loan for college, lenders may tell him his credit was destroyed years ago with unpaid bills along with maxed out credit cards.

“We have to have a mechanism for parents to be proactive rather than reactive,” says Velasquez. “We have to be able to shut off access to This kind of file.”

One way can be for credit reporting agencies to create credit files for minors who aren’t immediately going to use them, just so their parents along with guardians can freeze them.

Currently nearly half the states from the U.S. have laws mandating which a bureau creates a credit file for a minor, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

To ensure This kind of happens for your child you need to contact the three credit reporting agencies directly. Ask them to create a credit report. along with then immediately put a freeze on the idea.

Equifax, TransUnion along with Experian will create a file at your request along with may charge a fee for the freeze based on your state.

Activating your child’s credit report along with freezing the idea can be arduous. the idea often cannot be done online. You will likely be asked to put copies of a bunch of personal documents from the mail along with send the idea off to the credit agencies — something not everyone can be comfortable with.

One reason the logistical lift can be heavier can be because the idea can often be a family member who will steal a child’s identity. Also, the agencies need to confirm not only the child’s identity, nevertheless which you, as a parent or guardian, contain the authority to monitor the idea.

Looking for red flags along with shutting down fraud

If your child receives pre-approved credit card appeals from the mail, the idea may raise your suspicions, nevertheless the idea isn’t cause to freak out. Their name may have been scraped coming from a bank account or college fund.

nevertheless if a credit card bill, a collection notice, a jury summons or different mail which should be directed at an adult arrives in your child’s name, there can be reason to be alarmed.

“We get desensitized to looking at all the mail coming in along with we may say ‘Oh, the idea’s just a mailer or an ad,'” says Velasquez. “nevertheless the idea may be the bank or medical office trying to let you know there’s a problem.”

Child identity theft can be a crime of opportunity, says Velasquez. along with the idea can be only not through sophisticated data breaches which they are at risk, nevertheless also through carelessness along with over-sharing by the people which hold their information — parents, guardians along with institutions.

In addition to not carrying your child’s documents, like Social Security cards, birth certificates or medical forms, in a purse or bag which can be one misstep away coming from being exposed or stolen, Velasquez suggests parents never give their child’s Social Security number unless the idea’s mandatory.

Certainly some school, government along with medical programs require a child’s social security number. nevertheless always ask if the idea can be completely necessary.

“You can feel empowered to ask which question,” says Velasquez. “If they say the idea can be required, you can also ask, “How are you protecting which information?”

sy88pgw (brand new York) First published October 11, 2017: 2:41 PM ET


How to protect your kids coming from identity theft

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