A fraud alert can be a helpful way for adult victims of identity theft to help reduce further damage to their good credit score. Parents who suspect their child’s identity has been compromised may also want to consider setting a fraud alert if their child begins receiving pre-approved credit card offers or collection notices in the mail. It may be a sign that their child is a victim of child identity theft.
Factors to consider
The three major credit bureaus do not maintain credit reports and scores for children under 18, because most have no financial history to report. However, those who have been victimized by identity theft may have had credit reports and scores established — and subsequently abused — by identity thieves in their name. Parents should recognize that the bureaus may need to create a credit record for their children in order to set a fraud alert. That credit report may then need to be managed and guarded by parents until their child is old enough to assume the responsibility. While developing a credit report for minor children is not ideal, this financial record may provide young victims of identity theft with the opportunity to rebuild their credit history before they are old enough to open their own credit accounts.
Parents can set a fraud alert for children over the age of 14 by phone or through each major credit bureau’s websites. For children under the age of 13, parents will need to submit their request in writing, as federal law prohibits the credit agencies from collecting a minor’s personal information via the Web.
When writing to each credit bureau, parents should send a certified letter with the following information.
- A copy of the parent’s driver’s license
- Proof of the parent’s address, such as a recent utility bill
- The child’s full name, including middle name and any accompanying titles or generational information, such as “Jr.” or “II.”
- A copy of the child’s birth certificate
- A copy of the child’s Social Security card
- A list of previous addresses over the preceding two years
- A copy of the police or government identity theft report parents filed before requesting a fraud alert
In their letter, parents should explicitly ask that the credit bureau take the following actions.
- Establish a credit report for the child, if one is not created
- Set a fraud alert on that report
This information should be provided to each credit bureau. If a minor child already has a credit file with that agency, the organization will then set an alert and forward a copy of their credit report to the parents.