The worst thing a child can have when turning 18 is bad credit thanks to someone stealing his or her identity. And for parents who want to look at their child’s record, it isn’t as easy as some may believe.
One would assume if a parent came forth with a social security number and a birth certificate verifying the child’s age and proof of the relationship that the credit bureau will automatically give the information to the parent, investigate any credit that may be on file and place an alert. However, credit bureaus are not sympathizing to even the youngest of children who may be victims of identity theft.
If a parent chooses, they can open an investigation into the bad debt and try to rid the child’s credit report of the “negative item.” However, the investigation results may still find the child is responsible for the debt even after proving the child is not 18. The credit bureau may choose to leave the bad credit assuming the child is debt holder when in fact they are the victims. Credit bureaus can be so insensitive to the matter but it’s much worse when a parent or legal guardian can prove that the child is under age and did not file for credit.
So how can parents be assured that the child’s credit is not damaged? Just like your own, check your child’s credit report every year. To do this, the three bureaus ask for several items including but not limited to: the minor child’s complete name, address, date of birth and a copy of the birth certificate as well as the social security card. To those requesting the child’s report, a copy of the driver’s license or other government issued identity proof, which includes the current address and a current utility bill. All this must be done by snail-mail and not by phone or online. It can be a real pain but must be done to ensure the child’s credit has not been tampered with.
You can also place an alert for either six months or up to seven years. It’s good to have an alert in case a person seeks credit under the child’s social security number. A red flag will be raised and the creditor will need to speak with the parent before credit is issued.
If a report comes back with bad credit and the bureau refuses to delete it, it’s always best to contact the creditor who is on file. Most of the time they are willing to work with the parent to get to the bottom of the fraud and will delete the negative information themselves.
It’s bad practice on the bureaus’ part when parents seeking information for a child is denied because the bureau must need a driver’s license from the child. What if the child is under driving age? How can the parent prove their age then when a birth certificate isn’t enough? How can parents prove the child is living in the household other than the information already sent? The best way to ensure you get this information is to keep asking for it. Send more information regarding the child and you. Since it’s not always possible to talk to a credit bureau one-on-one (I’ve tried), parents need to keep sending the information to the credit bureaus until they get the answers they are seeking.
As adults, most of us know how credit works. For a child entering the world, having negative credit from the get go is not a good thing and it’s not always possible to fix the problems that can follow them for a long time to come. It’s up to parents to make sure their child is ready for the “real” world of credit.
For those wishing to seek credit reports, here are the three credit bureaus addresses.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, Georgia 30374
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, Texas 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834