The Identity Theft Resource Center says that kids are 51 times more likely to be the subject of identity theft than adults! Another study found that one in 10 kids has his or her identity stolen by the age of 18.
According to the FTC, some warning signs that your child’s identity has been stolen include:
- Being turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
- Getting a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
- Getting collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive
Luckily you can most likely avoid the above scenarios by freezing your child’s credit.
‘Synthetic’ identity theft is the new rage
Criminals target kids because they’re clean slates with clean Social Security numbers. Experts say they are seeing a lot of what’s called ”synthetic” identity theft, where a criminal uses a child’s Social Security numbers combined with a different date of birth, name and address. That allows them to pretend that they’re an adult with that Social Security number to create a new identity for themselves.
Parents need to be particularly careful about broadcasting a kid’s Social Security number on school forms, athletic events, school registrations and doctor’s offices. Those are areas of weakness where a child’s identity can be stolen.
For years, the credit bureaus took no action when it came to freezing a minor’s credit. So, it was left to the states to come up with legislation that gave parents tools to prevent identity theft from happening to their children. Now that credit freezes are free for all, it’s easier than ever to protect your kid from identity theft and fraud.
TransUnion, Experian & Equifax: Here’s how to put a credit freeze on your child
How to put a credit freeze on a child with TransUnion
Because TransUnion is not accepting credit freeze requests for minors via phone or online at this time, you’ll need to do the following:
- Submit a written request to place a “protected consumer freeze” on the child’s file.
- AND submit one document that provides “sufficient proof of authority” over the child, such as a court order, power of attorney or anything from a government agency showing that you are the parent, including a birth certificate.
- AND submit one a document that proves your and the child’s identity, such as a Social Security card.
Mail your request to: TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze, P.O. Box 380 Woodlyn, PA 19094.
How to put a credit freeze on a child with Experian
- To request a security freeze for your child, you’ll need to submit the following information for both you and the minor:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Complete addresses for the past two years
- Date of birth
In addition, include for your identification:
- One copy of a government-issued identification card (driver’s license, state ID card, etc.)
- One copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc.
You will also need to provide a copy of your child’s birth certificate and a copy of their Social Security card. Guardians are required to provide a court document proving their relationship to the child.
- This form provides instructions on what you’ll need. The request can be mailed to Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013, or sent by overnight mail to Experian, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013.
How to put a credit freeze on a child with Equifax
Call Equifax at 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960) or go to Equifax.com and Download the Equifax Minor Freeze Request Form for instructions on which documents you’ll need to include as well as the mailing address.
Editor’s Note: Some Clark.com readers have advised us that the address on the Equifax website is incorrect. The correct address appears to be:
Equifax Information Services LLC Minor Child
P.O. Box 105319
Atlanta, GA 30348-5139
As with the other credit bureaus, you’ll need to proof of your identity as well as your relationship with the minor.