At what point do you start worrying about your children's credit reports?
February 8, 2012 9:31 AM   Subscribe

The other day my 13 year old received an application for a Discover Card in the mail. At the time, I dismissed it as junk mail. Trans Union mentions that receiving applications may be a sign of a problem, and even has a site related to the issue here. While diving into a fraud investigation request for one application seems overkill, how common is this, and at what point does one start monitoring all this?

(She does receive magazines like National Geographic that would not be solely sent to children, though I did not have the presence of mind to check if the letter used the shorter form of her name, as the magazines do.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pull her credit report to see if there is a problem.

If there is no activity, it's junk mail. Does she have any accounts in her name (savings account at the bank, CD from Gramma)? I had a bank account from a young age, and frequently got credit card solicitations as a tween.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:35 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Child ID theft is definitely a thing. The FTC has ID Theft resources on what to do next.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:42 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

My children have their own frequent flyer numbers - and that seems to be a source of some credit card applications (mainly affiliated with the airline in question)
posted by nightwood at 9:44 AM on February 8, 2012

The ITRC site suggests NOT automatically checking for a credit report:
NOTE: ITRC and the three credit reporting agencies do not recommend that you automatically check your child’s credit report annually UNLESS you have an indication of a problem. A child should not have a report unless someone has started to apply for credit using that child’s SSN (SSN). To just order reports unnecessarily actually confuses the computerized systems of the reporting agencies and opens a door to thieves because it establishes a credit report.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:47 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The ITRC site suggests NOT automatically checking for a credit report:

They're pretty clearly talking about annual credit report monitoring. The key phrase here is "UNLESS you have an indication of a problem." The arrival of the credit card application may be an indication of a problem.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:56 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would probably not stress about it -- when I was young and getting "reptile fancy" magazine, I would occasionally get credit card offers for "Iggy Falcone."
posted by modernserf at 10:42 AM on February 8, 2012

Freeze her credit.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:48 AM on February 8, 2012

Yes, freeze it. One of the reasons why child ID fraud is becoming more popular is because the thieves are counting on the fact that nobody will be checking the reports until the child becomes an adult and needs to take out loans.
posted by Melismata at 12:02 PM on February 8, 2012

It is likely just junk mail -- I know people who have received credit card applications for their cat -- but I agree with those suggesting that you check into it, just in case.
posted by asnider at 1:29 PM on February 8, 2012

Is your child's SIN/SSN and name awfully similar to another older member the family?

Myself and both my parents are all named Al**** Lastname and our SINs all vary only by the last two digits (we are immigrants). When I was 18, I got a letter in the mail saying I've been pre-approved for some awesome great rate on a credit card. As it was time to get a credit card anyway, we did go to the bank with that letter. When they pulled up my credit history, it had a bunch of my moms stuff there (going back like 10 years) and I was pre-approved based on her credit card history.
posted by electriic at 7:48 PM on February 8, 2012

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