Could your child have a credit report even if he or she has never used a credit card or borrowed money? It’s possible when identity theft is involved.
Your child’s Social Security number (SSN) may be exposed in a number of ways — school records and medical records are just two common examples. Any time your child’s SSN is entered on a form and stored in a new location, one more avenue is established for identity thieves potentially to access the SSN. By pairing your child’s valid SSN with a different birth date, thieves can open fraudulent accounts without your knowledge.
This type of fraud is particularly insidious because it can go undetected for many years. You may not realize fraud has taken place until your child reaches early adulthood and applies for student loans, car loans or other forms of credit. By then, the damage is extensive and difficult to repair.
Most parents wouldn’t think to review their child’s credit report. Unless unexplained bills, collections calls or IRS notices show up, why would you even expect a credit report to exist?
That’s the very reason why you should check. Child identity theft is highly tempting for thieves because of the lower likelihood of detection. Who knows how many children were affected by the recent Equifax data breach?
To verify the presence or absence of a credit report, check with each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and ask for a manual search of your child’s file. It’s important to check with all three because an account may not be reported to all three agencies.
If your child is at least 18, Credit Manager can easily provide you with their three credit reports from all three bureaus within minutes by answering a few identity questions. It will provide one report free of charge.
If you decide to contact each bureau individually, you’ll need a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued form of ID and proof of address (utility bill or insurance/bank statement). Required information for your child includes a copy of his or her birth certificate, Social Security card, full name including middle initials and generational markers such as Jr. or Sr., and date of birth.
You should also include a letter explaining the situation and why your child may be an identity theft victim. Individual bureaus may require further forms or other information. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers links and contact information to each of…