Consumers under the age of 18 typically do not have credit reports. Unfortunately, that means they present a blank slate for fraudsters who can apply for credit and take out loans in their name. The identity theft may not be discovered for years, until the child is a young adult.
As a parent or legal guardian, a security freeze is one tool you can use to restrict certain access to your minor dependent’s credit report. Should you request a security freeze be placed on your minor dependent’s credit report, a credit report is created for the minor and then frozen. You’ll also need to complete this form and provide proof of your identity; proof of their identity; and proof that you are their parent or legal guardian.
Here are some commonly asked questions – and answers – about placing a security freeze on your minor dependent’s Equifax credit report:
Q. How does a security freeze protect my child’s credit reports?
A. Once a security freeze is placed on your child’s credit report, it restricts certain access to it, including access by fraudsters who may be attempting to open a new account using the child’s identity.
Q. Are they free?
A. Security freezes are free, but must be placed separately with each of the three nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
Q. What paperwork do I need in order to place a security freeze on my child’s credit report?
A. You’ll need to provide copies of documentation that verify your identity; the minor dependent’s identity; and your relationship to the minor dependent.
To prove your identity, please provide copies of one (1) of the following pieces of identification:
- A copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued identification
- A copy of your Social Security card
- A copy of your birth certificate
To prove you are the child’s parent or authorized representative, please provide copies of one (1) of the following pieces of documentation:
- A copy of the child’s birth certificate
- A copy of a court order
- A copy of a lawfully executed and valid power of attorney
- A copy of a foster care certification
To validate the child’s identity, please provide copies of both of the following:
- A copy of the child’s Social Security card
- A copy of the child’s birth certificate
Q. Why do I have to provide so much documentation?
A. It’s for your protection and your child’s protection. We need to verify both your and your minor dependent’s identity and verify that you are the child’s parent or legal guardian before we can take action.
Q. How do I request a security freeze for my child?
A. Parents or legal guardians need to mail their requests with the appropriate and legible copies of documentation to Equifax. In addition to the documentation, you’ll need to fill out this form and submit it to Equifax via U.S. mail.
Q. I have more than one child. Can I send multiple requests at the same time?
A. Yes, you can send multiple requests at the same time. But you will need to provide the same copies of documentation for both minor dependents.
Q. Where do I send my information and request?
A. Please complete and send the security freeze request form for your minor dependent and legible copies of the appropriate documentation to our dedicated security freeze mailbox at:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Q. What happens to my documents after Equifax receives them?
A. An authorized representative of Equifax receives and handles your request. This will include sending a confirmation letter that the security freeze has been placed or sending a letter requesting additional information, if necessary. The copies of the documents you send will be securely retained, stored, and disposed of.
Q. How long does all this take?
A. Since most minor dependents do not typically have existing Equifax credit reports, we need to create one before we can place a security freeze on it. This process may take up to 3 business days to complete once all the documentation is received.
Q. What happens once a security freeze is placed?
A. Once a minor’s Equifax credit report is frozen, it will remain frozen until you, as the child’s parent or guardian, take action or the child takes action to lift or remove it after his or her 16th birthday.
Q. What if I want to temporarily lift or permanently remove a security freeze – or my child does?
A. If a security freeze is successfully placed on your minor dependent’s Equifax credit report, your confirmation letter will contain a personal identification number (PIN). The PIN will be needed if you choose to temporarily lift or permanently remove the security freeze via phone or mail.
Q. What happens to the security freeze once my child turns 16?
A. The security freeze will remain in place until the child decides otherwise.
Q. What if my child is over the age of 16 but under 18?
A. Minors who are 16 or 17 may request their own security freeze, and can do so by phone or by mail. You must be 18 years old to create a myEquifax account, which enables you to manage your security freeze online.
For more information about Equifax security freezes for minor dependents, please visit: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
More helpful information about child identity theft – including some of the day-to-day ways you can help prevent it – can be found at the dedicated FTC website for child identity theft here.
To report an incident of child identity theft, please go to www.IdentityTheft.gov or call 877-ID-THEFT.