Credit Reporting. If you suspect identity theft, you should immediately notify the three major credit reporting agencies. The following information will help you in connecting with these agencies.
- Experian. You can contact Experian by phone toll-free at 888-397-3742, or by mail at PO Box 9532, Allen , TX 75013. After contacting them by phone, they will ask you to mail in documents proving your relationship to the child before releasing any credit information. A birth certificate and a copy of a parent's passport or driver's license are usually required. If there is no existing credit file, Experian will let you know that. If there is one, they will send you a copy so that you can dispute the findings. They will also lock the file until the child turns 18 and flag the social security number as one belonging to a minor.
- TransUnion. TransUnion offices are at PO Box 6790, Fullerton , CA 92834. Their toll free contact phone number is 800-916-8800. If you suspect child identity theft, you can email TransUnion at email@example.com, and they will reply with specific instructions for verifying the presence of a credit file on your child. If there is a file, it will be locked until the child turns 18 so no one else can use it secure credit.
- Equifax. Equifax has a toll free line at 800-658-1111. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta , GA 30348. Like Experian, they will ask you to mail in documents proving your relationship to the child before releasing any credit information. If a credit report exists with Equifax, they will let you know, but will not send you a copy. If a file is found, they will remove it from their system and flag your child's social security number as belonging to a minor so it can't be used again until the age of majority.
Police Report. If you have evidence of your child's being a victim of identity theft, contact your local police department or sheriff's office and file a report. Getting a police report is an important step in the process as it lends credibility to your dealings with the credit reporting companies when disputing items on the credit report. It will also help law enforcement in your and other jurisdictions in finding and prosecuting those who steal identities.
Challenging Fraudulent Information. As in the case of any identity theft, you need to be conscientious and keep careful records. The Identity Theft Resource Center offers the following recommendations.
- Keep an official case log containing a dated log with all information gathered, notes on everyone you talked with and everything you discussed, copies of letters confirming all agreements and discussions, and a monthly summary of actions taken each month or so.
- Keep a file of all documents. Maintain a file of all documents like police reports, receipts, credit card slips, credit reports and the like. As time goes on, these original documents become more valuable.
- Use proven templates for letters and correspondence. The Identity Theft Center offers a number of templates for the letters you will be sending to credit bureaus, creditors, and collection agencies. Using these proven forms will help you be more successful as the process wears on.
- Talk with creditors' fraud investigators. Rather than dealing with whomever answers the phone at a bank, a credit card company or other creditor, always ask to speak to a fraud investigator. These employees are trained and experienced in dealing with identity theft issues with their organization and can help you work through the issues with fraudulent accounts opened in your child's name.
Following these steps will help you work through the process of recovering from your child's being a victim of identity theft and helping keep their identities and credit record safe from later theft.