Each year, more than 50,000 children in Florida become victims of identity theft, and more than $100 million is stolen from children whose identities have been compromised. Identity thieves target kids because they generally have clean credit histories, and years will pass before the crime is detected. It’s never too early to start protecting your child from identity theft.
Freeze Your Child’s Credit
Florida law gives kids an extra line of defense against identity theft. Credit reporting agencies are required to establish and freeze a credit record for a minor upon request by a parent or guardian. By freezing your child’s credit, you can effectively block others from using it.
How to Request a Credit Freeze for Kids
To create a credit report for your child and freeze it, contact the following credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The fee to freeze your child’s credit is $10. If your child has already been the victim of identity theft, the fee is waived.
Equifax: Submit freeze requests in writing to:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
You must submit the child’s complete name and address, a copy of a Social Security card and an official copy of a birth certificate. Identification is also required for the parent requesting the freeze. For a complete list of the required documentation, visit the Equifax website or call 1-800-685-1111.
Download a Template Letter to Equifax [ ].
Experian: Submit freeze requests in writing to:
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
You must submit the child’s full name, Social Security number, date of birth, current mailing address, previous addresses for the past two years, and copies of a birth certificate and Social Security card. Identification is also required for the parent requesting the freeze. For a complete list of the required documentation, visit the Experian website or call 1-888-397-3742.
Download a Template Letter to Experian [ ].
TransUnion: Submit freeze requests in writing to:
TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze
P.O. Box 380
Woodlyn, PA 19094
Identification documents are required for both the child and the parent requesting the freeze. For a complete list of the required documentation, visit the TransUnion website or call 1-800-916-8800.
Download a Template Letter to TransUnion [ ].
Keep Your Child's Personal Information Safe
An identity thief can use a name and a Social Security number to open a bank account, obtain credit cards, apply for a loan, or even rent a place to live. Take precautions to keep your child’s personal information out of the hands of fraudsters. Here are some simple things you can do:
- Keep birth certificates, Social Security cards and other sensitive documents in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or home safe. Avoid carrying these documents with you.
- Be careful when disposing of documents containing personal information. Shred them before you throw them out.
- Avoid giving out your child’s Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary. Ask why it is needed, how it will be protected, how it will be used, and if another form of identification would be acceptable.
- Use strong computer passwords. Never write them down or share them.
- Limit the information you share about yourself and your child on social networking sites.
- Use only secure websites when sharing financial information online. A lock icon on the status bar of your browser means your information will be safe when it is transmitted.
Recover from Child Identity Theft
If you think your child’s identity has been stolen, it’s important to take immediate action. Follow these steps to stop an identity thief from doing more damage:
- Contact your local police department and report the crime. Keep a copy of the report to show to creditors and credit reporting agencies.
- Contact the three credit reporting agencies and request any information they might have on your child’s credit.
- Ask the credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report.
- Contact every creditor listed on your child’s credit report. Explain that this is a case of child identity theft and ask to have all accounts and collection notices removed immediately from your child’s credit report.
- Freeze your child’s credit.