Our oldest is a senior in High School. Who has informed his mother and I that he is interested in joining the Coast Guard. Although we are proud of him, we are concerned for his safety and well-being. Although many of my sons friends will be going away to college, and experiencing a small taste of independence and responsibility, my son has chosen to jump right in and leave the nest. During conversations with my wife about our sons plans, it occurred to us to check our child’s credit report. Years earlier my younger sister had trouble with Identity Theft.
An Adult Decision
When my son told me of his interest in joining the Coast Guard, it wasn’t a complete surprise since we had had conversations about options for his future. My wife was a little apprehensive at first but she was willing to support our sons decision. We naturally worry if he will be ready to live on his own. My son seems to have a few reasons for joining the Coast Guard. Besides claiming his independence, and serving our country, he also would like to take advantage of the GI bill. Since he, still plans on attending college at a later date. It seems our son has thought this through and made some grown-up decisions.
Ready to Fly
Many of our sons friends will be going away to college and although they will be gaining some independence when they go away from their parents for a semester, They won’t be fully on their own. It’s almost like they will get a chance to try out the waters but get to come home in between semesters. Our son is jumping out of the nest with both feet and I have to admit it’s scary for us. The real world can be scary place The truth is, I know he’ll be OK. I think as parents, we naturally always worry about our children when they go off on their own.
As many parents do, we’ve done many things over the years to prepare our son for adult life. We’ve taught him about money management, cooking, doing laundry, driving a car and any other number of things that we thought he needs to know for adult hood. But most recently, we’ve also felt the need to address with our son the need for internet and identity protection. Children today have never known life without the internet. It has always been part of the world they were born into. As such, they are very comfortable and capable of navigating it with what seems very little concern or fear for their own safety. My wife and I have explained the need for caution with our son when on the internet. We’ve gone over necessary steps to protect his personal information like his social security number. We’ve also done research and have tried to find internet protection for our family.
Besides securing his personal information, we also went and checked for a credit report. We were happy to find that he had no credit report. Unfortunately, the idea to check for our sons credit history came from a bad experience that my younger sister went through. While applying for financial aid and loans for college, she discovered that her social security number had been used for a few years and had a variety of fake accounts in her name. Unfortunately, she had to put off going to college right away and begin to try to fix her damaged credit. It took her the better part of a year before she actually cleared up most of the damage. And for a few years after, little problems kept creeping up. We wanted to avoid this for our son.
Where to Go
Each of the big three credit reporting agencies has a different procedure for checking if your child has a credit report.
- TransUnion offers an online form to help determine whether your child
may be an identity theft victim. If the company finds a credit file on your
child, it will seek more information from you.
- Equifax instructs parents to contact its Minor Child Department in
writing, and to provide copies of the child’s birth certificate and Social
Security card, proof that you are the child’s parent or legal guardian, and a
copy of your driver’s license or other government identification. Equifax says
it will notify you and remove the child’s file if it exists.
- Experian requires parents to mail in or digitally submit documentation if they want to
know whether the company has a credit file on their child age 13 or younger.
Experian provides a form for doing so. If a child does have a credit history, Griffin says, Experian will add a security alert to the file,
include a note to say the child is a potential fraud victim, and freeze the
file at no cost. When the child is older, he or she can lift the freeze and
have access to his or her report, Griffin says.