Equifax

Finance Blog

Does My Child Have a Credit Report?

Written by Teri Cettina on July 24, 2014 in Credit  |   2 comments

If your child is a minor, he or she really shouldn’t have a credit file. After all, your child isn’t eligible for credit cards, mortgages, or other loans—the kinds of items that would appear on a credit report. Unfortunately, identity thieves can steal children’s personal…

does-my-child-have-a-credit-reportIf your child is a minor, he or she really shouldn’t have a credit file. After all, your child isn’t eligible for credit cards, mortgages, or other loans—the kinds of items that would appear on a credit report.

Unfortunately, identity thieves can steal children’s personal information, including their Social Security numbers (SSNs), and use that data to open credit accounts in their names. If an identity thief uses your child’s information to apply for credit, you might not find out about the theft until he or she tries to apply for college loans or other credit. By then, thieves could have racked up years of fraudulent charges, collections, and even bankruptcies or judgments in your child’s name.

When should you check your child’s credit?

I recently checked my daughter’s credit file after I was concerned that her information had been compromised in a data breach. (The incident is still under investigation, but the source of the breach may have been an outside agency hired to do background checks on parent volunteers.) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you check your child’s credit whenever your school experiences a data breach of any kind.

You may also want to check your child’s credit if you begin receiving credit card applications in his or her name. That’s a clue that someone has already applied for credit, pretending to be your child. Credit card issuers don’t typically send credit applications to underage consumers.

Other warning signs

You should also be concerned about identity theft if you get collections calls or bills in your child’s name; if your child is turned down for government benefits and you’re told benefits are already being paid to another account that bears your child’s SSN; or if you receive an IRS notice that your child’s SSN was used on someone else’s tax return.

How to check your child’s credit report

If you’re faced with any of these unsettling situations, you should quickly report the fraud and work to keep the damage from spreading. Your first step: Contact the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and ask for a thorough search for a credit file under your child’s name and SSN. While it’s a bit of a hassle—you’ll have to mail in documentation that proves you are the child’s parent or guardian—it’s for his or her protection. You don’t want it to be easy for the wrong person to obtain your child’s credit information.

If any of the credit reporting agencies find a credit file for your child, get a copy of the credit report and review it carefully. If you see accounts that don’t belong to your child, dispute them immediately.

(Click here for information on how to dispute information on a credit report)

You can also place a fraud alert on your child’s credit file. This requires creditors to verify your child’s identity before granting credit in his or her name. If your state allows it, you may want to go a step further and put a security freeze on your child’s credit file. This will prevent any credit from being opened in his or her name so no further damage can be done.

In addition, you might want to create an Identity Theft Report through the FTC and file a police report with your local law enforcement agency.

Preventing child identity theft

Even if your child hasn’t had a brush with identity theft, it’s wise to be very careful with his or her personal information. Ask your child’s school how it safeguards personal information, such as your child’s SSN. Don’t automatically give your child’s SSN to medical or other service providers. Ask whether insurance information is sufficient or whether you can prove your child’s identity another way. Only carry your child’s Social Security card with you when absolutely necessary, and store the card in a secure place in your home or in a safe deposit box at your bank.

When it comes to kids, it may seem like overkill to worry about identity theft. However, it’s much easier to prevent fraud than to clean up your child’s credit file after a breach has occurred.

Teri Cettina is a mom of two daughters and freelance writer who specializes in personal finance and parenting topics. She blogs at Your Family Money. Follow her on Twitter: @TeriCettina

2 comments

  1. Patricia Y. says:

    My name is Patricia Y. and you have not yet replied with information on how to access my $15.99 credit report. I have access for 30 days and already a couple of weeks have passed without access. You requested that I do not reply to your last email because it would initiate a new number and slow down the solution-finding process.

    • EFX Moderator says:

      Patricia, we would like to help you address your matter. Please submit your matter/inquiry, along with your legal name, city/state, & email address used for Equifax registration, to equifaxsupport@facebook.com so that a Customer Support agent can respond to you directly.


Leave a Comment


Name :


Commenting guidelines

We welcome your interest and participation on this forum, but be aware that comments will be published at Equifax's sole discretion. Please don't use this blog to submit questions or concerns about your Equifax credit report or raise customer service issues. Instead, you should contact Equifax directly for all such matters and any attempts to do so in this forum will be promptly re-directed.

Some other factors to consider when commenting:
  1. Registration and privacy. While no registration is required to visit our forum, participants wishing to post a message must register by creating an account. All personal information provided by forum members incident to registration is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
  2. All comments are anonymous. We'll delete your name, e-mail address, and any other identifying information, including details about your investments.
  3. We can't post or respond to every comment - As much as we'd like to, we can't post every comment, nor can we guarantee that we will respond to each individual message. All questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or similar customer service issues should be handled by contacting Equifax directly.
  4. Don't offer specific legal, tax or financial advice. All of the materials on this Site are for information, education, and noncommercial purposes only and this forum is not intended as a means of expressing views or ideas regarding any specific legal, tax, or investment advice. While offering general rules of thumb is both permitted and encouraged, recommending specific ideas or strategies regarding investments, taxes, and related matters is prohibited.
  5. Credit Repair. This blog is not intended as a venue for the discussion or exchange of ideas regarding credit repair or other strategies intended to assist visitors and community members improve or otherwise modify their credit histories, ratings or scores.
  6. Stay on topic. Your comment should be concise and pertain to the specific post in question.
  7. Be respectful of the community. The use of profanity, offensive language, spam, and personal attacks will not be tolerated and egregious or repeat offenders will be banned from future participation. We encourage disagreement and healthy debate, but please refrain from personal attacks on our WordPresss and contributors.
  8. Finally: Participation in this forum may be terminated by Equifax immediately and without notice for failure to comply with any guidelines or Terms of Use. As such, you should familiarize yourself with all pertinent requirements prior to submitting any response through the blog or otherwise. All opinions expressed in this forum are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.


Credit Archive

Stay Informed Sign up for our FREE Equifax email Newsletter