From medical records to insurance databases to school district computers, hackers are increasingly gaining access to our kids’ sensitive data. Research shows that kids could be 50 times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults, in part, because kids’ pristine credit records provide a blank slate for thieves and often go unchecked for more than 18 years.
A child credit freeze is widely believed to be the single best tool to prevent financial ID theft. However, for years, the credit bureaus have refused to let parents freeze their kids’ credit unless they lived in a state with a law that forced the bureaus to allow child credit freezes.
Thanks to the new Consumer Protection Act, you can now freeze your kids’ credit (and your own) for free in all 50 states! And… you can request a child credit freeze by phone or online WITHOUT putting sensitive information the mail!
Check out our Step-By-Step Guide to Freeze Your Child’s Credit.
We recently discovered some of the bureaus may be, once again, requiring you to mail in sensitive documents despite laws intended to prevent that. We are investigating and hope to provide an alternative soon. Please check back for an update. In the meantime, we do not recommend mailing in the required documents.
As a Consumer-Investigative reporter, I’ve covered child ID theft for years. So, when I became a mom I immediately set out to freeze my own toddler’s credit. What I discovered led to a year-long series of editorial blogs that ultimately prompted a new state law and a series of consumer reports.
In “Why My Toddler Has a Credit Card,” I revealed a loophole I discovered that allowed me to freeze my daughter’s credit even though we lived in a state without a child credit freeze law.
However, I quickly discovered that the credit bureaus themselves were putting the identities of both parents and children at risk by using antiquated security protocols. Among other things, they required 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. Two bureaus agreed to allow parents to fax in documents upon request, and one added a secure online upload feature.
Citing this continuing coverage, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced the child credit freeze legislation AB 1580 that, for the first time, would give California parents the right to freeze their child’s credit before they were victimized. It unanimously passed the state senate and assembly and was signed by the governor in 2016.
It may have taken a few years (and a few dozen massive hacks), but federal lawmakers have finally mandated that every parent should have the right to protect their child from ID theft.
The law requires the bureau to let you freeze your kids credit file, it says they can’t charge you for a credit freeze, and it specifies that they have to let you request the freeze by phone or online. (NOTE: You do have to submit documents for a child credit freeze, but the bureaus previously provided us with fax numbers and online uploads as an alternative to mail.)
For tips on how to freeze your kid’s credit, check out our “Step-By-Step Guide to Freeze Your Child’s Credit.” It includes a detailed summary of hard-to-find contact information, tips and sample documents specific to each bureau, along with a candid description of the hurdles and security concerns you may encounter along the way.
We’ll be updating the guide shortly with a revised “how-to” following the implementation of the federal law. In the mean time, reach out to me if you have any trouble freezing your kid’s credit.
And remember, DON’T put your social security number or other sensitive info in the mail!