I’ve talked a bit in the past about using credit freezes as a means of preventing identity theft. Essentially, a credit freeze puts a lock down on access to your credit reports when you enable it with all 3 credit bureaus. No new lines of credit can be opened because potential creditors can’t run your credit. Pretty simple concept right? Unfortunately, most people don’t consider placing a credit freeze until after they have had their identity stolen. At this point, it’s likely the damage has been done, and the credit freeze is nothing more than a band aid. Same goes for your child’s credit.
Until recently, most states haven’t allowed parents to proactively freeze their child’s credit to protect against identity theft damage. This is changing however, as now more than 20 states will allow parents or guardians to freeze the credit of children under the age of 18 before they become victims of identity theft. If you have young children, there is absolutely no reason NOT to lock down their credit reports. If they’re under 18 years old they cannot legally apply for a credit card, mortgage or other lines of credit, so there’s no reason to have their credit reports accessible and left vulnerable to identity theft. Washington state is the most recent to allow proactive credit freezes for minors.
A recent study by identity theft protection company, All Clear ID, shows roughly one in 10 children become the victims of identity theft, making them roughly 35 times more likely than adults to be victimized. A child’s credit is attractive to thieves because it’s often rarely checked, allowing the fraud to continue for an extended period of time, and, unlike adults, a child’s credit is often a clean slate. Read the full story here
Most people are also unaware that they can enroll their children, as well as themselves in a credit monitoring plan that will send alerts if anyone is trying to use their social security number to open any new lines of credit. This is another important proactive step that can mitigate potential identity theft damage. Several of the major credit monitoring services that I recommend, including IdentityGuard & Lifelock, have monitoring plans that allow parents to include their children’s social security numbers for monitoring.
If you live in one of the light colored states on the map above, consider freezing your child’s credit soon, and get a credit monitoring plan in place for the entire family as a second layer of protection.