NOTE: This page was originally published in 2015 & was last updated in October 2018.
When I set out to create this guide for parents, I never imagined it could be so difficult. Several years, several massive hacks and several pieces of legislation later, every parent now has the right to freeze their kid’s credit and utilize the single best tool to prevent financial ID theft.
However, the process is still not perfect…
We recently discovered some of the bureaus may be, once again, requiring you to mail in sensitive documents despite laws intended to prevent that.
Back in 2016 I reported that the credit bureaus themselves were putting the identities of both parents and children at risk by requiring parents to mail sensitive documents to a PO box.
In “How I Forced the Bureaus to Freeze My Child’s Credit,” I outlined the security risks and detailed my 6-month effort to encourage the bureaus to voluntarily offer an alternative to mail. Ultimately, Transunion & Equifax agreed to allow parents to fax in documents upon request. Experian added a secure online upload feature.
Unfortunately, Transunion recently decided they would no longer offer an alternative to mail and disconnected their fax without warning. Similarly, Experian is no longer allowing parents to use its secure online upload function to submit the sensitive documents necessary for a child credit freeze.
To be clear, Experian does still have the online upload function and will allow adults (who they can charge) to use it, but they will not allow parents to use it for the child credit freeze.
Incidentally, these changes follow a recent federal law that now requires the bureaus to allow all parents to freeze their child’s credit for free. They use to make money off child credit freezes and only allowed them in certain states.
Privacy advocates like Consumer Watchdog note that the refusal to offer a secure alternative to mail seems to contradict the spirit of the law which also requires the credit bureaus to let you request that freeze via “telephone or secure electronic means.” In addition, the mail-only policy is at odds with various state laws prohibit printing Social Security numbers on materials that are mailed. They require parents mail in full SSNa along with birth certificates and a slew of other sensitive information.
We have reached out to regulators and hope to have a secure alternative to share with you soon.
In the meantime, you can review our step-by-step child credit freeze guide below and begin gathering the necessary documents. We suggest holding off on step 3 for Experian and Transuion until we update this post with an alternative to mail. Equifax does still offer a fax option as an alternative to mail.
However, if you do want to/need to freeze your child’s credit immediately, we highly recommend sending your documents to the bureaus via Certified or Registered Mail so that you can track the delivery and ensure it arrives safely at the bureau.
STEP 1 – Review the detailed “Child Credit Freeze Summary” for each credit bureau.
- TransUnion Child Credit Freeze Summary
- Equifax Child Credit Freeze Summary
- Experian Child Credit Freeze Summary
The three bureaus have different procedures to freeze your child’s credit. Each “Child Credit Freeze Summary” above streamlines the child credit freeze process for that bureau.
The summaries above identify security concerns and include hard-to-find contact information, tips and sample documents specific to each credit bureau. You’ll also find a candid description of the hurdles and successes I encountered along the way.
STEP 2 – Compile your documents.
- Child’s Birth Certificate
- Child’s Social Security Card
- Parent’s Government Issued ID (with home address)
- Parent’s Utility Bill (with matching home address)
- Notarized Description of Authority (Click Here for a Sample)
- This is simply a letter swearing under penalty of perjury that you are the child’s legal guardian and have the authority to freeze your child’s credit.
- Have it notarized ($10)
- FYI – Don’t sign the letter yourself until you are in the presence of the notary.
STEP 3 – Fax/upload your documents.
- TransUnion- Fax:
(Note: TransUnion recently disconnected it’s fax line and is now refusing to offer a safe alternative to US mail 12/18)
- Equifax – Fax: 1-888-826-0707
(Note: We confirmed this number IS accurate 10/18)
- Experian – Secure Online Upload: https://www.experian.com/consumer/upload/
(Note: Experian recently began refusing to let parents use the online upload for child credit freezes and is now refusing to offer a safe alternative to US mail 12/18)
NOTE: By default, the bureaus ask that you mail in your documents. Security experts advise against sending any sensitive information (like your Social Security number) via standard mail.
While FedEx and UPS do provide more secure mail options, they do not deliver to P.O. Boxes, and the bureaus only offer P.O. Box addresses.
STEP 4 – Wait five business days.
STEP 5 – Call the bureaus to confirm your child’s credit file has been established.
- TransUnion 888-909-8872
- Equifax 888-836-6351
- Experian 800-509-8495
Experian will not verify anything over the phone, but you can call with questions.
When you call a credit bureau, ask to be transferred to the “U.S. consumer relations department that handles security freezes.”
When they ask for a Social Security number, decline and insist that they look up the file using a name and address instead.
You should agree to verify guardianship by confirming the last four digits of your child’s Social, but you should be allowed to decline to give the full Social Security number over the phone.
STEP 6 – Wait for confirmation from each bureau to arrive in the mail.
STEP 7 – Record your children’s pin numbers in a safe place so you can thaw their credit when they turn 18.
- Safe deposit box
- Scrap book
- A series of discrete emails to yourself
(Do not indicate what the numbers are for in case your email gets hacked.)