Ask Jean: Kids and Credit
“Do you recommend parents conduct a credit freeze for their minor children?”
– Tim, via Twitter
You actually can’t freeze a credit report unless there is a credit report to freeze – and your children, unless they’ve already been victims of identity theft or you’ve added them as an authorized user for your credit card, shouldn’t have a credit report. So unless you have reason to suspect fraud – in which case, you can contact a credit bureau to see if a file has been created using your child’s Social Security number – I’d focus on protecting your children’s identities in other ways:
- Give out their Social Security number only when necessary and, and keep it in a safe place at home. A large percentage of identity fraud is committed by friends and family members of the victim, believe it or not.
- Keep an eye toward red flags. Watch the mail for credit card offers in their name, a sign that there’s something fishy going on.
- Teach your children well. Namely, tell them not to share personal information – including their birthday, address, phone number and, of course, Social Security number, with strangers. This extends to Facebook and other social networks, which thieves tend to mine for information.