By Brittany M. Midgette
As you sort through your mail, you may notice that some mail has arrived that is addressed to your child. For example, your ten-year-old child may have received a couple of pre-approved credit offers. This may seem a bit odd, but you shrug it off and think it must be due to the over-zealous efforts of credit card companies.
Unfortunately, this type of mail can be red flag, indicating that your child could be a potential victim of fraud. As a parent, you have the ability to protect your children against fraudsters who are seeking to use your child’s information to obtain credit for themselves. It may be time to request a credit freeze to ensure your child’s financial security. Knowing what to do will make it easier to protect your child’s future financial security.
As a parent or legal guardian, you can protect your child’s credit by placing a credit freeze. A credit freeze allows you to restrict access to your child’s credit report, which makes it more difficult for thieves to open new accounts in your child’s name
Why should I request a credit freeze for my child?
Most children under the age of eighteen do not have credit reports. This blank slate presents an enticing opportunity for those hoping to commit fraud. Once a fraudster obtains a child’s identifying information, the thief can then use the information to apply for credit and take out loans in the child’s name. Unfortunately, the identity theft often goes unnoticed for years.
How do I request a credit freeze for my child?
Abacus frequently assists clients with requesting their own credit freeze and their children’s credit freeze. An overview of the process is included below:
1. Gather information to prove your identity and your child’s identity.
To request a credit freeze on your child’s credit, you’ll need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each credit bureau will require that you send documentation verifying your identity, your child’s identity, and your relationship to your child. You will need to make three copies of each of the following documents:
a. Your government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license
b. Your birth certificate
c. Your child’s birth certificate
d. Your Social Security card
e. Your child’s Social Security card
f. A utility bill, bank statement, or insurance statement with your name and address on it
2. Complete the credit freeze request forms.
In addition to the documents listed above, each credit bureau requires a form (or signed statement) requesting a freeze. Both Equifax and Experian have forms available on their websites. TransUnion does not have a form; they require a signed letter requesting a freeze.
3. Mail the documents to each credit bureau.
Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, you will send a set of documents to each of the credit bureaus. Although sending by regular mail is acceptable, it is recommended that you use certified mail because of the sensitive nature of the documents.
4. Wait for confirmation and PIN.
After receiving the credit freeze requests, each of the credit bureaus will mail confirmation of the freeze and will include a PIN. The PIN will be necessary for unfreezing your child’s credit, so you will need to keep it in a safe place. The freeze will remain in place until you take action to lift the freeze (or when the child is over age sixteen and takes action to lift the freeze).
Most parents will do everything within their means to protect their children. By staying vigilant and requesting a credit freeze for your child, you are working to protect your child’s financial health.
Brittany M. Midgette is a 2014 magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina with a BA in Psychology and Criminal Justice. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Brittany earned her Juris Doctor from William & Mary Law School in May of 2019, passed the South Carolina Bar in July of 2019, and joined Abacus in January of 2020.
Abacus is a financial advisory and investment counsel firm known for its passion in creating abundance for clients and family businesses through skillful listening and smart financial decision making. Managing over a $1.5 billion on behalf of its 240 plus families, Abacus consists of a team of multi-disciplinary experts who work collaboratively to serve its clients.