March 19th, 2015 by Jason M. Kaplan, Esq.
Acquiring Credit Reports of Your Children
All parents hope to give their children the skills to become financially stable and financially savvy adults. No one wants to see their child handling their money poorly or mismanaging their credit, as those things only lead to further problems down the road. But even after doing everything they can, parents might still want to check on their children’s progress after they become adults. But there is a big difference between acquiring credit reports on your children while they are minors and after turning 18.
Acquiring Credit Reports Before they Turn 18:
More and more, child identity theft is becoming an issue. A 2012 Child Identity Fraud Survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored by ITAC, showed that one in every 40 households with children under the age of 18 had at least one child who had been the victim of identity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that parents check to see if their children have a credit report in their name around the time they turn 16. That way, if there is a problem, it can be rectified before it causes further issues. Some youngsters may have a credit report if they hold a joint account or are an authorized user on an adult’s account; but if something appears on a minor’s credit report that doesn’t look right, it needs to be checked out. So there are legitimate reasons for acquiring credit reports on your children at certain times and in certain circumstances.
What About After They Turn 18?
Maybe the child is out on her own for the first time, or the child is a college student the parents are still financially responsible for. Whatever the case, sometimes parents want to see the credit report of a child who has reached legal adulthood. Two questions need to be asked in regards to this:
- Is it possible?
- Is it legal?
In answer to the first question, yes it can be possible. If a parent has the child’s social security number and can answer questions regarding the child’s previous addresses, outstanding debts, and other security questions, it is possible to acquire the credit report (provided they don’t let the credit bureau know they are not the child). It is also quite possible that the child will find out what happened if they have an identity theft protocol in place, if any question is answered incorrectly, or if they check their own credit report later on and discover it was previously checked.
In answer to the second question, it is not legal for anyone, even a parent, to obtain someone’s credit report without permission. It is considered identity theft and fraud, according to the credit bureau Experian.
The best way for parents to handle the situation is to simply ask permission. Parents can say they are concerned about the child’s credit or that they want to get the report so they can sit down and make sure the child knows how to get their own report and how to read it. Acquiring credit reports on your children may be tempting, but be sure it is done the right way.
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