As a parent, you always want to keep your children safe. In fact, it is probably your very first instinct. There are many ways that you can protect your kids from falls, bruises, and even strangers, but have you thought about protecting them from future financial disaster? If not, you might want to think about a credit freeze.
A Credit Freeze? What’s That?
Essentially, a credit freeze prevents people from accessing someone’s credit report. Though this might not be a foolproof method, it can greatly help to prevent identity theft. Why? Because when a credit report is frozen, it is much more difficult for a cyber criminal to open a new account.
When someone’s credit is frozen, it is still possible to get credit reports, and if you need to apply for new credit, you can easily lift the freeze. At the end of the day, this is a simple financial safeguard.
The Benefits of a Credit Freeze for a Child
Most people understand how important it is to protect our identities, and after the huge Equifax data breach, all of us were painfully aware of online security. Though many of us, as adults, took some steps to protect ourselves, most people haven’t done anything to protect their children.
This is quite understandable, though. Kids aren’t using their credit, so out of sight, out of mind. However, identity thieves know this, too, and they are starting to target children.
Though any type of identity theft is a big issue, when a child’s identity is compromised, it can go undetected for years, and sometimes even decades. This makes them very vulnerable, and according to research, more than a million kids are victims of identity theft each year.
When you freeze your child’s credit, however, you are taking a big step in protecting them, and it can help you protect them and avoid any cost, time, and hassle that can come with restoring a person’s identity. On top of this, when the time comes for you to unfreeze their credit, such as when they buy their first car, get their first job, or for another reason, you can teach your kids a valuable lesson.
How to Freeze Your Child’s Credit
Now that you know the importance of freezing your child’s credit, you might be wondering how to go about doing it. Here is some information about this:
Contact the Three Credit Bureaus
The first thing you have to do to freeze your child’s credit is to reach out to each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You have to freeze credit reports with all three of these companies for this to work correctly.
Collect Your Documents
To do a credit freeze, you will need to provide some information about yourself and your child. So, it is suggested that you gather up this information before you start filling out all of the necessary forms.
Some of the documentation you might need include:
- A Social Security card for yourself and your child
- Government ID for yourself
- Piece of mail, such as a bank statement or utility bill, with your name and address on it
- A copy of your child’s birth certificate
- If your child is a foster child or adopted, you will need certification for this, too
- Proof of address for the past two years
Fill Out the Forms
When you have gathered up all of the information you need, you can contact the credit bureaus. Remember, you have to contact all three of them. Some people assume that they only have to contact one of these companies, but you have to contact all three.
When you contact Experian, you will be required to set up specific forms. Once the company gets this paperwork, they then place the freeze on the credit report within a couple of days. Equifax has a similar process, but TransUnion requires a written request along with specific documents. Since all of them have different requirements, it is important to pay attention.
Making the decision to freeze your child’s credit isn’t always a light decision, but it can help to protect your child in the future. It is much easier to steal a child’s identity, so it makes a lot of sense to do this now. On the flip side, the process of doing this can be complicated and time consuming, but it can be a small price to pay to protect your child’s credit.
Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.