Parents spend years guarding their children from scrapes and cuts. However, some of the biggest damage done to their children’s well-being could come from identity theft. As parents send their children off to college, they should continue to protect their kids by monitoring their credit scores.
Once thieves have young people’s sensitive information, including their dates of birth and Social Security numbers, they could open new lines of credit that could lower their creditworthiness and cause problems down the line as they try to obtain a loan or apartment.
Here are ways to properly monitor your college student’s credit and identity.
1. Know Where They Stand
To make sure their children’s information is safe, parents should encourage their children to request their credit reports while in college. They can check their credit reports for free on AnnualCreditReport.com every 12 months. They can get one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can also get your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com. Keep in mind that the student may not have much on their credit report since they likely don’t have many open credit accounts.
2. Inspect the Report for Strange Credit Activity
Parents can also make sure their children are aware of suspicious activity that could indicate identity theft. College students should look for signs that someone else opened a new account, such as unrecognizable accounts, collection notices and hard inquiries. When there is a hard inquiry on a credit report, it usually means that someone else has applied for new credit and a creditor has permission to check a credit score in order to grant new credit.
3. Correct the Credit Report
In case there is inaccurate information on their child’s credit report, parents can also take steps to correct these credit details. After checking their credit, college students should submit a letter or fill out an online form to the credit reporting firm describing the parts of their credit report they think is wrong. Students should also provide proof of their claim and provide as much information as they can to support their credit dispute. If you believe your child has become a victim of identity theft, it’s important to report the fraud to the authorities as well.
4. Provide Tips to Help Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft
Parents can also offer their children information on protecting themselves from identity theft. These tips include never giving their personal information out by unknown callers and not carrying around sensitive information like their Social Security card.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email