Experian Offers Free Service to Detect Child Identity Theft
Over one million children were victims of identity theft last year, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. In an effort to combat this, Experian is now offering a free one-time Child ID scan so parents can protect their children.
Experian will run a child’s Social Security Number to see if there are any credit accounts or inquiries in the child’s name. If so, the bureau will provide parents with information to help them resolve the matter, and repair the child’s credit before he or she becomes an adult. Children who have their identities stolen often struggle to get credit cards, loans, and other lines of credit when they eventually need them because their credit was damaged by this theft. It may take months or even years to resolve matters before they can start using their own credit.
The Child Scan is free and does not require a credit card. To use it, parents may sign up for an Experian account. After verifying their identity, they may submit their child’s SSN to look for signs of identity theft. Experian provides a detailed report on their website showing all transactions under the child’s name.
While this service is beneficial, it only covers one bureau. There are three major credit bureaus, and each of them gather different credit-related information. Ideally, parents should consider putting a credit freeze on their child’s Social Security Number until they reach adulthood. This prevents anyone from applying for a line of credit in the child’s name.
Credit freezes are not available in all states, and their fees vary by location. For instance, North Carolina began offering credit freezes for children in 2015, and the service costs $5. The freeze protects children on the three major credit bureaus, blocking all risk of identity theft.