Editorial Policy

How to get your underage child's credit report

Tina Orem

By
February 12, 2015

As a parent, you want to protect your children from identity thieves, so it's natural to want to check if a credit report exists — often a sign that there is criminal activity in your child's name.

But the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, limit access to kids' credit reports — ironically, in the name of protecting the child.

(See mainbar: 5 ways to protect your teen's credit.)

How do you check your child's reports when access can be limited?

First of all, your kid shouldn't have a credit report. Credit reports only exist if there has been credit activity, and children shouldn't have any unless one or both of the following has happened, according to Rod Griffin, who is the director of public education at Experian: You've made a child an authorized user or joint account holder on your credit card, or someone has stolen your child's information and used it to open accounts.

This can create a chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to pulling your kid's credit report, because you're essentially trying to obtain something that, in most cases, shouldn't exist yet.

On top of that, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act restricts credit agencies from knowingly collecting personal information regarding children, which is a big reason credit reports for minors under 13 cannot be accessed online. So, the age of your child matters when requesting reports.

For children 13 and older, you should be able to go to AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a conduit for the three reporting agencies, and request a credit report for free. Your child can make the request. Beware: If the information you input doesn't match the credit bureaus' identifying information sufficiently, you'll be instructed to request the credit reports in writing from each reporting agency.

Parents can't use AnnualCreditReport.com to get credit report information on children under 13. Instead, they'll need to request credit reports directly from each of the three agencies. Here's the low-down on what to expect.

TransUnion

Folks hoping to save a little time might start with TransUnion's “Child Identity Theft Inquiry” form. Fill out the online form, and then TransUnion will contact you via email in as little as 24 hours if it finds a credit report for your child so that you can start the process of locking down the credit file. It will also tell you if no report was found. You can correspond with the child theft team there at childtheft@transunion.com.

Experian

Start by accessing Experian's form and clicking on “minor child instructions.”

You'll need to provide the following:

  • A copy of the child's birth certificate; make sure it shows the child's full name, including middle name and generational suffix (“Sr.,” “Jr.,” “II,” etc.), and date of birth.
  • A copy of the child's Social Security card.
  • A copy of your own driver's license or other government-issued photo ID.
  • A copy of a bank statement, utility bill, insurance statement or other proof of address
  • A list of addresses for the past two years.

Equifax

Equifax does not provide a form; it asks for “a letter of explanation” along with the following:

  • A copy of the child's birth certificate; make sure it shows the child's full name and date of birth.
  • A copy of the child's Social Security card.
  • A copy of your own driver license or other government-issued photo ID.
  • If you're not the child's parent, a document proving your legal authority to act on the child's behalf.

The addresses of the three reporting agencies are:

Experian
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax Information Services LLC – Minor Child
P.O. Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348-5139

TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

Remember, most children should not have credit reports, so rejection is a good thing here.