You can now freeze your child’s credit files for free, and it isn’t that hard to do, says The New York Times’s article, “You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit. It’s Not Hard. Here’s How.”

Because of a new federal law, free credit freezes are available to everyone. When you have a credit freeze with the major bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—most companies can’t access your credit record, unless they’re already conducting business with you.

As a result, a criminal can’t get a credit card in your name because the card company won’t open the account, unless it can review your credit first.

Thieves can find a way to use your kids’ credit files for their own illegal purposes, and because most people don’t watch their children’s credit, thieves have more time to do their work. In addition, children usually don’t have black marks in their credit files yet—an attractive feature for the bad guys.

Many grown-ups aren’t keen about the hassle of having to temporarily thaw their credit files whenever they want to buy a car or take advantage of a sign-up bonus for a new card, however, this isn’t a problem for children. Therefore, their freezes are less problematic.

Look at each credit bureaus’ instructions on its website. The law typically requires companies to collect proof that you are who you say you are and that your child is really your child. This usually entails mailing them copies of some combination of your child’s birth certificate and Social Security card, and your driver’s license and Social Security card.

In a few weeks, you’ll get a letter confirming that the companies have frozen the files. There isn’t an electronic upload available for your documents, but you can fax them in.

Equifax and TransUnion request that you use an address on the envelope that includes the word “freeze” in it: “Equifax Security Freeze” and “TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze.” However, they’ll still process your request, if you leave “freeze” out of the address.

Reference: The New York Times (December 28, 2018) “You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit. It’s Not Hard. Here’s How”

Suggested Key Terms: Credit Freeze, Asset Protection, Financial Planning, Financial Abuse