Protecting your child from identity thieves
“About a year after Rory was born, I got a letter that said ‘your personal information has been obtained in a breach of the U.S. Government personnel records…'”
That letter was Hillary Hunt’s first indication that someone had gotten their hands on her baby son’s identity. Fortunately, the warning gave Hillary a chance to do something about it before criminals could ruin her son’s credit.
Many parents are not so lucky. Since children usually don't apply for loans or credit cards, thieves can steal a child's identity and get away with the crime for years. Then, when the victim gets old enough to buy a car or get a loan for school, the damage is already done.
Washington state senator Sam Hunt decided to protect children just like his grandson Rory from falling victim to identity thieves. He helped create a new law, letting parents freeze their children's credit. A credit freeze means that thieves cannot open a credit card or take out a loan in your child's name.
"No kid should start out at a disadvantage - certainly if you're two and you have your credit rating ruined, that doesn't bode well in later life; especially when it's nothing that you've done." says Senator Hunt. The Washington attorney general's office agrees.
"It's a great law that gives parents and guardians affirmative action to guard against identity theft." said Shannon Smith, the Senior Assistant Attorney General in Consumer Protection.
The attorney general's office has a step-by-step guide to help you freeze your child's credit. You can find those instructions here. You will need your child's birth certificate, social security card, and a way to prove your address. You may also need to pay a $10 fee.
Once your child is old enough to start applying for loans or credit cards, you will have to un-freeze their credit.