Child Identity Theft

You may have considered identity protection measures for yourself. But how about for your children? Children can’t apply for credit on their own until they’re 18, and they likely have few financial assets. However, they do have valuable personal data fraudsters want.

If you suspect that identity thieves may have targeted your child, TransUnion can help. By submitting a request through our Child Identity Theft Inquiry form, we’ll check our database for a credit file with your child’s Social Security number. If we find one, we’ll guide you through next steps you can take including adding a TransUnion minor child freeze to their file. You can also add a freeze for a minor even if we do not locate a credit file.


Consequences of child identity theft

Children, like adults, can become victims of identity theft in several ways, such as by having their data exposed in a data breach incident. Children make a tempting target for identity thieves because theft of a child’s identity may go undetected for years. After their child is born, most parents apply for a Social Security number, which is all that’s required to open most credit accounts. Yet it could be years until a child applies for credit in their own name. If a criminal uses it in the meantime, the identity theft can go undetected and create serious consequences. For example:

  • Identity theft could affect your child’s future credit and employment history if the thieves (who sometimes turn out to be family members) obtain credit accounts or get jobs using your child’s identity.
  • The thieves could sign up for utility services or apply for government benefits under your child’s name.
  • If the thieves are arrested for other crimes, those crimes could become associated with your child’s record.

Signs of child identity theft

Whether your child has been a victim of identity theft may not be obvious. The signs can be subtle. There are some red flags to watch out for, however, that might indicate your child’s personal information may have been compromised. Here are a few:

  • Your child begins receiving suspicious mail, such as preapproved credit card or other financial offers normally sent to adults, in their own name.
  • If you try to open a financial account for your child but find one already exists, or the application is denied because of a poor credit history.
  • Your child is denied government benefits, like health care coverage or nutrition assistance, because their Social Security Number is tied to a benefit account already in use.

If you notice any of these warning signs, you may wish to investigate potential identity theft.

Checking your child’s credit report

Your child likely doesn’t have a credit report. But they may already have one, for instance, if you’ve added your child as an authorized user on one of your credit accounts to help them build a credit history. However, if they have a credit report but you never added them as an authorized user, it may be a sign of identity theft.

To see if your child has a TransUnion credit report, use our secure Child Identity Theft Inquiry Form to submit an inquiry. We’ll use the information you provide to investigate the existence of a potential credit file in your child’s name. If you have questions about this form, you can call us at 800-916-8800.

Remember, you are initiating this communication with TransUnion, a trusted source of credit information. We will use this information only to conduct the search you request. We will not include this sensitive information in any return correspondence to you.

After our search is complete, we will respond to you at the email address you provide.

Responding to child identity theft

If your child has a credit report because of fraudulent activity, there are steps you can take to report it and help them recover, including, for instance:

  • Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and get an Identity Theft Report on their behalf.
  • Notify your local law enforcement agency and ask them to provide a police report. The company or bank where the fraud occurred may request it as they resolve the account.
  • Contact the companies related to the fraudulent activity and instruct them to close the account. Their contact information will be on the child’s credit report. Send them a letter that includes the FTC Identity Theft Report.
  • Dispute the inquiries and accounts related to fraud with each credit reporting agency. For TransUnion, in addition to filling out the Child Identity Theft Inquiry, you’ll need to provide your child’s Social Security number and a copy of the child’s birth certificate.

To dispute an item on your child’s credit report, you will need to mail the documents above, along with as much information as you can about the items you need to dispute. This can include the account number the name of the company that reported the item and the reason for the dispute. Send your documents to:

TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000

Adding a protected consumer freeze for minors

In addition to reporting the fraud to the FTC, companies, and credit bureaus, you may want to consider placing a credit freeze on your child’s credit report to protect them from any fraudulent activity. A credit freeze will prevent lenders or other third parties from accessing your child’s credit report to open a new account in their name.

A freeze for a minor is called a Protected Consumer Freeze. A protected consumer freeze is a credit freeze for a minor that a parent, guardian, or person with a valid power of attorney can add to a minor’s credit file. This type of freeze can’t be temporarily lifted. It will remain in place until a parent or guardian requests its removal, or a minor can request its removal once they are 16 years of older.

To place a Protected Consumer Freeze for a minor, you’ll need to submit a written request. As part of that process, you’ll supply supporting documents proving you have the authority to act on behalf of the minor or dependent, such as a government issued birth certificate, as well as proof of your identity and the identity of the child, such as a Social Security number or copies of government issued identification. You can learn more about the documents required for the requests noted above and where to send the letters on our Freeze FAQ page. You will need to place a protected consumer freeze with each consumer reporting agency individually.

Even if your child does not have a credit report yet, you can still add a credit freeze as a layer of protection until they’re able to apply for credit on their own. If you request a credit freeze for a child who does not have a file already, TransUnion will create a credit file and then freeze it.

To remove the freeze, you’ll need to mail in the request and documentation again. When your child turns 16, they can remove or add the credit freeze themselves by sending a letter with identifying information.

Once they turn 18, your child will have access to what you may think of as a standard credit freeze, which offers more flexibility. They’ll be able to place and remove the freeze online and have the option to temporarily lift it for a specific time when they apply for a credit or loan opportunity.

Make child identity theft prevention a habit

Think of identity theft prevention as a family protection habit. You can protect your children from identity theft by considering the following tips:

  • Only share your child’s personal information, especially sensitive data like their Social Security number, when necessary.
  • Store important documents in a secure location.
  • Taking action early to prevent or recover from identity theft on behalf of your child means they’ll be able to confidently and comfortably access future credit opportunities they deserve.

By taking these steps, you can help safeguard them from identity theft and set them up for future financial stability. If you’re looking for more insights on this topic, check out our blog post on what to do if you become a victim of identity theft. 

What You Need to Know:

The credit scores provided are based on the VantageScore® 3.0 model. Lenders use a variety of credit scores and are likely to use a credit score different from VantageScore® 3.0 to assess your creditworthiness.

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