The new year brings a new law in Kansas that will help protect your child from identity theft. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, credit reporting bureaus are now required to place a security freeze on the credit report of a child younger than age 16 if requested by a parent or guardian. Taking advantage of this new law could help keep your child’s credit from being damaged by identity thieves.
Children may not seem likely targets for identity theft, but it’s far more common than you might think. Since children typically do not borrow money until they’re applying for student loans or a buying a first car, this type of identity theft can go undetected for many years. The identity thief may have opened multiple accounts using your child’s social security number, and of course identity thieves usually aren’t very good at keeping up on their credit card payments.
Here are some tips to keep your child’s identity safe:
· Keep all of your child’s personal documents, like birth certificates and social security cards, in a secure location, like a safe deposit box or a locked file cabinet. Be sure to shred any other documents containing your child’s personal information when they are no longer needed.
· Don’t share your child’s social security number with anyone unless it is absolutely necessary and you trust the person you’re giving that information. If it is necessary to share the social security number, ask how that information will be stored and protected.
· Check your child’s credit reports. This is especially important when they are entering the teen years and might be starting to apply for jobs, car loans or student loans. If your child is 14 or older, you can request a copy of his or her credit report from the three major credit reporting bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. If the reports come back showing that there is no credit history, that’s a good sign. If there are accounts listed on the credit report, that’s a red flag that your child may be the victim of identity theft. For children younger than 14, if you suspect your child may be the victim of identity theft you can contact the credit bureaus directly. They will require you to send some documentation to prove that you are the child’s legal guardian before giving you any information they have.
· Place a security freeze on your child’s social security number under the new Kansas law. A security freeze is essentially a padlock on your child’s credit report that does not allow it to be accessed until you unlock it. That means anyone who tries to open an account using that social security number would be blocked from doing so. The security freeze will remain in place until you or your child lifts it. There may be a one-time fee of not more than $10 for each of the three credit bureaus to place a freeze and again to remove it – but that is far less than the cost of cleaning up after becoming the victim of identity theft. Find more information on how to contact the credit bureaus to place a security freeze at www.InYourCornerKansas.org/ChildID.
If you or your child does become a victim of identity theft, our consumer protection division can help. Begin by calling our consumer protection hotline at (800) 432-2310 or file a complaint on our website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org. Our website also contains useful information on how to prevent identity theft, how to contact the credit bureaus, how to request a security freeze and many other important topics.