In a world where toddlers are prime targets for identity theft, and credit bureaus are run by clowns, now seems like a good time to freeze your kid’s credit files.
How to Use This Guide
You can copy and paste the body of these four letters (aside: did you know there’s a fourth credit bureau called Innovis? WTH?!) into your own documents. Please do not request edit access to these docs. You just gotta manually copy and paste the text into your own Google Doc or word processor of your choice. Sorry. It’s a permissions thing.
Each letter contains a list of attachments that you’ll need to provide, as well as a mailing address for each bureau. I strongly suggest NOT adding any “freeze” descriptor to the addressee field on the envelope, and addressing it simply to the credit bureau. For example, on the envelope, just write “TransUnion” vs. “TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze.”
Theoretically, this makes it less obvious to any mail thieves that the envelope contains a TON of sensitive documents. Is it still possible that your mail is intercepted by an identity thief? Yes. But there are only so many hours in a day, you kind of have to prioritize what to worry about.
This guide is specific to California, but applicable to consumers in these states. If your state is not listed, see this excellent blog for the legit crazy extra steps you need to take (like adding your toddler to your credit card — BECAUSE AMERICA).
Get Your Docs Together
Alrighty! Now is the time to gather every piece of paper known to man confirming both your and your child’s identity, and make copies. Each credit bureau requires a slightly different set of documentation. Naturally. Here is the superset, for reference:
- Copy of your Social Security card
- Copy of your driver’s license, passport, OR birth certificate
- Copy of a recent utility bill or home/rental insurance policy for proof of current residency
Your Child’s Stuff
- Copy of child’s Social Security card
- Copy of child’s official birth certificate
TransUnion also requires a signed and notarized (I KNOW) Description of Authority (a statement that says you are your child’s parent). I’ve included a sample in the TransUnion template.
Pay These Clowns (TransUnion and Experian only)
If you live in certain states, like California, you have to pay these idiots a $10 fee to institute a credit freeze to prevent your 1-year-old from becoming a victim of identity theft. Equifax and Innovis waive this fee.
Total cost: $20 in bullshit fees to TransUnion and Experian, plus the cost to notarize a document for TransUnion.
Send your checks (if applicable), along with alllll the other documents you’re supposed to provide, to each credit bureau. Then wait a few weeks for everyone to get back to you.
Store Your PINs
You’ll get confirmation and a PIN from each bureau in the mail. Store this information someplace safe — depending on how old your child is, it could be 18 years before you need it again. Unless we manage to dramatically overhaul the broken credit bureau system in the United States, you’ll need the PINs to lift the freeze eventually (it’s not looking great for us, TBH, so maybe get a lockbox or something).
Haha j/k, the top credit bureau in the country just compromised the extremely sensitive financial data of 143 million Americans, didn’t tell anyone about it for 2 months, and then basically set up a WordPress site for everyone to submit the last 6 of their social.
Oh, also, their actual job is to secure the aforementioned extremely sensitive financial data of hundreds of millions of Americans. Isn’t that just the best?
Freezing your child’s credit files is definitely worth doing (I mean, I wrote this whole post about it, after all), but as long as these clowns are running the show, none of us are truly safe.