Protecting the Identity of Your Loved OnesSubmitted by Berk Cleveland Rathmell Wealth Strategies LLC. on February 4th, 2019
We all care deeply about our family and those close to us. We always want to do the best for them. Protecting one’s identity has become a very important topic recently, especially with the explosion of the internet over the past 25 years. I will be proactive and begin building my five-year-old’s credit when he turns fourteen. This is a common recommendation that we make to our clients who have children.
Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, suggests that 25% of children will be affected by identity theft. The Department of Justice reported that in 2014 5.8% of people over the age of 65 experienced at least one identity theft incident in the past 12 months. This makes it very important to take steps to protect your loved one’s identity. But how?
A new federal law went into effect on September 21, 2018, allowing people to make inquiries about credit files and freeze a file at no cost. You can do this for yourself, your child, a parent or grandparent that you want to help protect. It doesn’t matter that this should have been an easy option for those of us that are parents for some time. It is an option now, and all it takes is a couple of minutes of your time each year.
It’s also a good idea to help an elderly family member or friend with this issue. If someone has amassed all the wealth they need for the rest of their life and have no intention of using their credit ever again, it makes sense to consider a freeze. It’s important to note that a freeze is not forever, and unfreezing your credit is not a difficult task. However, for those who are regularly accessing their credit, it may just make more sense not to freeze it from the standpoint of pure convenience. It is easier than ever to monitor your credit and should be part of your regular healthy financial practices.
Identity theft is a hot topic these days and one more thing that we don’t need to stress about in our daily lives. Consider freezing the credit of those that can’t use it or don’t need it anymore and make great habits in monitoring the credit of those close to you. Below are the steps you can take to go through the credit freezing process for your child.
Steps for checking/freezing one’s credit:
· Go to https://identitytheft.gov/Steps, scroll down and click on the Child Identity Theft section, under Special Forms of Identity Theft.
· That section has instructions on how to find out if your child has a credit report. Most young children shouldn’t have credit files.
· The webpage includes contact information for credit agencies and how to freeze credit.
· Some experts recommend parents create a credit file for their children and freeze it, because the system is built on the idea that the first person to create a file is that person.
· Keep the record of freezes in a safe place, so the child or a guardian can find it when needed.