Avoiding Baby Identity Theft! How to Stay Safe
Guest post from our friends at Credit Parent!
How to Avoid a Credit Freeze Headache
Children make great targets for identity thieves. Cyber-fraud experts have written a lot about the topic, and they generally all agree that freezing a child's credit report is the best way to help prevent these types of crimes.
So why hasn't freezing a kid's credit report become part of the standard new parent checklist? Add child to your health insurance, check! Take them in for regular checkups with the pediatrician, check! Freeze their credit report ... not so fast!
Turns out, like many parts of parenting (and life) it's easier said than done.
Credit Freeze 101
Freezing your own credit report is actually pretty simple. You just need to show a few documents to prove you are who you say you are, and the credit bureau can place a freeze on your account. The freeze process is not all that risky for the credit bureaus. After all, there's not much harm to be done in keeping people out versus letting them in.
When it comes to freezing someone else's credit file, however, things get a bit trickier, EVEN IF YOU CARRIED THEM FOR NINE MONTHS AND GAVE BIRTH TO THEM. There's a lot more to prove, and everything needs to line up.
3 STEPS TO FREEZING A KID'S CREDIT1. PROVE YOURSELF
Just as with freezing your own credit, you need to prove you are who you say you are. Sure, no problem.
2. PROVE YOUR KID IS LEGIT
You need to prove the minor whose account you're trying to freeze is who you say they are. Since they are, in fact, a minor, your document options are pretty limited. I've encouraged my 7-year-old to go for her driver's license because it would make errands way easier, but alas. Have you ever noticed that TSA doesn't make you show proof of identity when flying with kids? Same reason. The difference is credit bureaus can't waive your kid through the line.
3. PROVE YOU'RE THE BOSS OF THEM
Finally, and most challenging of all, is that you must *prove* that you have the right to act on the minor's behalf. Unfortunately the whole "prove" thing is kind of an issue because most of the government-issued documents we have for our children aren't verified, except in cases like legal adoption and guardianship transfer. For everyone else ...
Handing over your IRS tax returns that list your kiddo as a dependent would be one possible alternative way to show proof, but that's a lot to ask, considering 'ole POTUS won't even show his.
There just is not a fast, simple, or universal way for parents to prove they have rights over a minor. So, for now, we have to rely on birth certificates, social security cards, and our legal system of guardianship.
Why'd You Have to Go and Make Things So Complicated?
The credit bureaus (e.g. Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) have been left to their own devices to collect and review documents in order to freeze credit reports. Shockingly [read: not shockingly], their processes and requirements are ever changing and complicated. They're required by law to freeze consumers' credit, including minors, but that doesn't mean they have to make it easy. In fact, they've complicated it (and they don't let you submit your info online). Hello, it's 1995 calling ... I hear you want to freeze your child's credit.
The best part? To best protect your kid, you have to freeze their credit report with all three major bureaus. For those keeping tracking at home, that's three different forms, with three different paperwork requirements. Three envelopes and stamps. Plus a trip to the post office to make sure some
enterprising thief doesn't fish your confidential info out of the mailbox.
Rest Easy: How to Freeze Your Child's Credit in 15 Minutes (or Less)
At Credit Parent, we've tried to tidy up the mess. We've consolidated the painstaking task of freezing your kid's credit report with each credit bureau into a simple, streamlined process. With our Easy Freeze, you fill out one web form and we'll take care of the rest. No printing, no stamps, no trips to the post office required.
We're here to make it easier for you, and all parents, to take this simple but important step toward protecting your child's financial future.