For the last several years, I have been recommending for parents or legal guardians to freeze children’s credit reports. Here is an excerpt for today’s Wall Street Journal about this issue:

Young children may not even have an allowance yet, but thieves can make a lot of money off their identity. Criminals can grab children’s information in the real world or online—most crucially, the Social Security number—and then use it to open a line of credit, using whatever address or bank account they choose. From there, the crooks can do anything from going on a spending spree to trying to claim the child’s government benefits like healthcare coverage or nutrition assistance. And since most parents have no reason to check their offspring’s credit, they might not find out about it until the child gets older and applications for student loans are rejected and benefits are denied.  “Kids are particularly vulnerable,” says Ari Lightman, a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. “And the theft of their identity can be a huge problem as they become an adult.”

The first thing to do is to check a child’s credit report at all three credit reporting agencies. If there is no credit report, that’s good. Then use the page on each of the credit reporting agencies sites to initiate a freeze. This can be lifted at a later date.

More to come come on child identity theft in my next blog entry.