Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

UPDATE: Under Washington law, parents can request to freeze a child's credit (RCW 19.182.230)

 

With all the attention on child identity theft, it’s understandable that parents might want to freeze access to the kids’ credit files to thwart any harm. But can they?

I posed the question to a representative from TransUnion, after being contacted by KING 5 for their report, “Protecting your kids’ financial future.”

The answer: You can, in fact, freeze a child’s file – if a file exists. But it shouldn’t.

If a credit report exists for child, it’s only because of fraud. In that case, the parent or legal guardian can freeze the child’s credit file. The individual will have to provide proof that they are the parent or legal guardian and that fraud has occurred.

However, credit bureaus don't have the ability to create a file for a child because a parent wants to place a preventative freeze. Files are created based on information reported by creditors – eg: employers, credit card companies, mortgage providers and other lenders. So if you’ve never had a job or applied for a credit card or loan, and no one has managed to ambush your Social Security number, you won’t have a credit report.

On a related note, you can freeze your credit whenever you want to in Washington. You can also freeze the files of a vulnerable adult, provided you have legal authority to make decisions for the individual. Learn to recognize the signs of elder financial abuse.

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