For years, identity theft expert Eva Velasquez warned parents that freezing their children’s credit reports was difficult, problematic and probably unnecessary.
Velasquez, chief executive officer of the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, has since changed her mind. Or rather, the sheer volume and severity of database breaches — including last year’s breathtakingly huge compromise at Equifax credit bureau — changed it for her. She now recommends that parents “strongly consider” credit freezes for their kids.
“The landscape has changed,” Velasquez says.
What hasn’t changed, unfortunately, is the difficulty of getting a credit freeze for someone younger than 18. Sometimes it’s impossible, depending on where you live.
Credit freezes allow you to restrict access to your credit reports, preventing identity thieves from opening new, fraudulent accounts in your name. Credit freezes have been available to U.S. adults since 2007.
Children, however, typically aren’t supposed to have credit reports. If they do, someone has probably stolen their identity. All three major credit bureaus allow parents to freeze credit reports when a child’s identity has been used by a thief.
Many states, though, don’t require the bureaus to offer credit freezes if a child’s identity hasn’t already been compromised. That could change: A Senate-approved bill to loosen Dodd-Frank banking regulations includes a clause that would require