Free to Freeze: The Right to Freeze Your Family’s Credit Reports
How the new Dodd–Frank reform law helps protect both personal credit and your children’s credit
Kids Are Getting Too Much Credit
Identity theft is rampant, and it’s all about the money. Undeservingly, kids are getting all the credit. New credit files never applied for are popping up on children’s financial records. With clean credit that rarely—if ever—gets checked, children are prime targets for hackers.
More than one million children were victims of identity fraud or theft last year, according to a survey by Javelin Strategy & Research. Overall, Javelin reported 16.7 million people had their identities stolen last year.
The 2017 Identity Crisis
The Equifax breach played a huge part in last year’s identity theft numbers. In what is considered one of the worst data breaches in history, 143 million Americans had sensitive personal information exposed. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen along with 182,000 dispute documents with personal information.
Fees & Regulations
Like a bank account, you can “freeze” credit to lock access and prevent theft. However, unless you’ve already been attacked, you must pay each credit bureau a fee to both freeze and “thaw” your credit. Freeze fees and requirements vary by state.
The new Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act waives all credit freeze fees. Starting September 21, consumers can freeze and thaw their credit report—and their children’s—free of charge.
Parents will soon gain free access to credit reports through any of the top credit agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. As a result, you will be able to check if a credit file has been opened in your name or your child’s name. Between 0 and 18, children should be off the grid. If you find a file that shouldn’t be there, you can place a credit freeze for free. You can later remove the freeze without a fee.
How to Freeze a Credit Report
All that will be required to freeze credit is acceptable forms of identification. Once frozen, you will receive a 10-digit PIN. This PIN is necessary to thaw the report.
Call each of the credit unions individually to place your credit freeze.
- Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents 1-800-349-9960)
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
While the government can’t provide invisibility or know who hackers are going to target next, they have made it easy for families to monitor and freeze their credit reports, bringing greater peace of mind and protecting parents and children alike.