Protect Your Child's Identity

family with laptop
March 4, 2015

Have you ever checked your child’s credit report? Chances are you never have. And why would you? Your child probably doesn’t have a credit card, bills, or loans.

But, there actually is strong merit for checking your child’s credit report: Children are prime targets for identity theft. In fact, the 2012 Child Identity Fraud Survey, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, reported that one in 40 households with children 18-years-old or younger had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity theft.

Child identities might be more valuable to identity theft criminals, because they can use the identities longer before the identity theft is discovered.

For example, an identity thief using a 10-year-old’s identity likely will be able to use it for eight years before the child’s first credit check. By that time, the criminal may have racked up years of debt, which can take years to resolve and possibly restrict a child’s chance of getting a job, college loan, or open a credit card.

Because of the identity theft threat, it’s never too early to check your child’s credit report. The Federal Trade Commission recommends all parents check to see if their children have credit reports when they turn 16. This gives parents time to correct any errors on the report. To check your child’s credit, you must submit an in-writing request to one of the credit reporting agencies. Follow the instructions on each of the three credit reporting agency websites:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • Transunion

Update 05/05/17:  Consumers can request copies of credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.  The site also outlines steps to take if you suspect fraud involving your child's identity.