This advice may sound like it is coming from a place of paranoia, but it really is solid advice and could save you and your children a lot of headaches down the road. Because of all the different types of cyber-crime happening, you should run a credit report on your children well before the time that they would be looking to get credit. It’s up to you as to what exact age that you want to start running a periodic credit check on them, but as early as 10 years old isn’t too young. After explaining why you want to do this, you may even want to start at an earlier age.
The primary reason that you should run a credit report on your children is to prevent identity theft so that no one else can hijack their Social Security Number. By running a credit report on your child at an early age, you are basically taking the steps to electronically bind four pieces of information together that makes your child uniquely them so that it makes it much more difficult for fraudsters to hijack any of their personally identifying information. You’re tying together your child’s name, Social Security Number, birthdate, and place of residence and creating a digital footprint that will be difficult for an adult aged fraudster to take over.
If anyone does get a hold of your child’s social security number and tries to take over their identity and/or get credit in your child’s name, there will be some mismatching data that is going to show up to the lender that they’re trying to receive credit from. The fraudster may have the right name and Social Security Number that they’re trying to use to get credit, but if you’ve established that your child’s Social Security Number belongs to a 10 year old, a 20-something fraudster is going to have difficulty passing himself or herself off as your child. Additionally, it’s likely that the fraudster will use a different address than your own and that will set up another red flag to the lender that they’re trying to obtain credit from.
You can use the same website that is available to adult consumers to order the credit report. The website is www.annualcreditreport.com, or if you are a PFCU member, you can use SavvyMoney, which gives you free access to your credit score and report. While it is recommended that adults use this website every four months and rotate the bureau that you pull from each time, when you make the initial credit pull for your child, you should select all three of the bureaus to pull from. You want to make sure that the name, Social Security Number, birthday, and address are populated across all of the major credit bureaus at the same time. Once you’ve established and linked your child’s data across the different credit bureaus, you only need to pull reports every couple of years to feel confident that their information is safe.