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Financial Tips: Teens & Credit

💸 You can help to protect your child from identity theft or bad credit by checking to see if your child has a credit report.

❓ Why is it important to check if my minor child has a credit report?

✔️ Your child may have a credit report as a result of an error or as the result of identity theft. Child identity theft is a growing problem. While it’s difficult to know the exact scope of the problem, one recent report indicates that approximately 2.5 percent of U.S. households with children under age 18 experienced child identity fraud at some point. Identity thieves sometimes target children’s Social Security numbers because children have no credit blemishes and because the fraudulent activity may go unchecked for years. Possible warning signs that your child is a victim of identity theft include receiving bills, credit card offers, or debt collection calls in your child’s name.

Children may legitimately have information on file at a credit bureau in some limited circumstances, such as if they are listed as an authorized user or joint account holder on an adult’s account. Adults may request their children’s credit reports by providing certain documentation. It’s important to check these reports to make sure there are no errors. Errors might occur, for example, if the child’s identifying information, such as his or her name, is the same as a parent, because credit information for the two can get mixed up.

❓ How do I check to see if my child has a credit report?

✔️ Contact any or all of the three nationwide credit bureaus to request that they search their database for a credit report in your child’s name. You have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time. By requesting the reports separately, you can monitor the credit report more frequently throughout the year.

❓What should I do if there is an error on a minor child’s credit report or evidence of identity theft?

✔️ If your child has information on their file and you find an error, you should dispute the error. You may contact both the credit reporting company and the company that provided the information. You should explain what you think is wrong, why, and include copies of documents that support your dispute.

To prove that your child is a minor, send the credit bureaus a completed copy of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Uniform Minor’s Status Declaration Form with a letter requesting that they remove all accounts, account inquiries, and collection notices from the credit file associated with your child’s name or personal information.

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