Soon you will have more options to protect your credit score. A new federal law goes into effect later this month that will allow you to freeze your credit score for free and you can get yearlong fraud alerts. Your credit isn’t the only thing you should monitor; you should also keep an eye on your child’s file.
According to a recent study by Experian, the average age for children to have their identity stolen is 12 years old. Experian designated Sept. 1 as Child Identity Theft Awareness Day. Con artists can use your kid’s Social Security number to open credit cards, bank accounts, rent houses and more. Experian now offers a free one time scan of your child’s Social Security number to check if it is associated with any credit files.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shares several warning signs that you should watch for, such as if you get a notice from the IRS saying that your kid did not pay income taxes or that their Social Security number was used on another tax return. You should also keep an eye out for bills for products or services that you did not order or receive.
If you think your child is the victim of identity theft, you should contact each of the three credit reporting companies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. The FTC says to ask for a manual search of your kid’s file and the companies will search for files connected to your child’s name and Social Security number.
If your child’s information was stolen the FTC says you should ask each credit reporting company to remove all of the accounts, account inquiries and collection notices from any file that’s associated with your child’s name and Social Security number. Then, you should reach out to every business where your kid’s information was misused and ask them to close any fraudulent accounts. If you are the victim of identity theft, you should report it to local law enforcement.
Starting Sept. 21, you can freeze your child’s credit for free until the child is old enough to use credit. As part of that new law, you can freeze your credit without paying a fee. You can also set up a fraud alert so that businesses will check with you before opening any new accounts. Right now, fraud alerts last 90 days, but under the new law they will last for one year. The FTC says putting a freeze on your credit does not affect your credit score.
If you want to freeze your credit, you can contact the three credit reporting companies the following ways. You can call TransUnion at 1-888-909-8872. To contact Experian, call 1-888-397-3742. You can reach Equifax at 1-800-349-9960. If you want to freeze your credit by going online, we put links on how to do that on our website www.KKTV.com, just click on Find It.
If you are the victim of identity theft, you can reach out to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation by calling their 24-hour identity theft and fraud hotline at 1-855-443-3489. For more information and to report it to the FTC, visit www.identitytheft.gov. Make sure to share this information with your family to help protect them from becoming a victim of identity theft.