"It is risky to have those offers
sent to you in the mail since they can be stolen and
individuals can fill them out and use your credit history,"
says Paul Stephens, a policy analyst at Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse, an advocacy group.
Check with the credit agencies to see if credit reports
exist. Credit reporting agencies do not knowingly
maintain credit files on minors, says David Rubinger,
spokesman for Equifax. So be sure to contact the three
major credit bureaus if you suspect a problem.
Supply your child's complete information
-- name, address and date of birth, copy of his or her
birth certificate, and Social Security card. Parents
or legal guardians should provide a copy of a government-issued
document showing identity, such as a driver's license.
"In the case of Equifax," says
Rubinger, "if it is determined there has been fraudulent
use of the child's Social Security number, we take the
appropriate steps to protect the child. The parent or
guardian receives written notice that those steps to
protect the minor have been set in place. If it is determined
that there is no credit filed on the Equifax database,
the parent or guardian will receive written notice that
no file exists."
At Experian, consumers can call (888)
EXPERIAN or (888) 397-3742 and select the fraud option.
"We'll check our records," says
Griffin. "If there's a record on file, we will
send a report. If there's not, then that's a good thing."
Terry, of TransUnion, advises parents
of victims or young adult victims to contact the agency's
by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The agency will check to see if a credit report exists.
"If it does exist we will suppress
the file and get a notation on the file saying this
is a minor," says Terry. "And, if we are dealing
with the parent directly and we see additional activity,
we're going to work with the parent to advise them of
Check for an earnings report from the Social Security
Administration. "If your child is 6 years
old and there are earnings reported to Social Security,
obviously something may have gone awry," says Jonathan
Lasher, deputy chief counsel to the inspector general
for external relations at the Social Security Administration.
The earnings record and credit report
are two things indicating that someone is misusing your
credit, says Lasher.
You can get your earnings record by requesting
it online, calling or visiting the office. Lasher says
the consumer receives this report once a year from the
Contact the Social Security Administration
at (800) 772-1213.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
If you think your child's identity has been hijacked,
contact the FTC via the Internet
or phone (877) IDTHEFT or (877) 438-4338.