Andrew Harmon



Does Your Little Kid Have Bad Credit?
(and Tips for You If You Do)

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America! When people think about credit reports and credit scores, they rarely think about their school age (K-12) children. However, many children are victims of identity theft and it makes their financial future difficult because they usually don’t learn about the problem until it’s too late.

When is too late? When a child turns 18, anything on their credit report becomes their debt because they are legally an adult! If identity theft and/or errors are discovered on a minor child’s credit report, it is much easier to fix prior to the child turning 18.

In this economy, some parents and relatives opened accounts in a minor child’s name usually because there was a financial difficulty such as pre-foreclosure. The belief was that getting bills out of their own name would help the family’s financial situation, and then the adult would make payments on the accounts in the child’s name to bring them current. However, many adults were not able to make the payments and/or the length of time the accounts were delinquent hurt the child’s credit.

Most children find out they were victims of identity theft when they are denied after applying for a job, an apartment, or a car loan. These applications are almost always after their 18th birthday, so the debts on their credit reports are legally theirs just as if they opened the accounts themselves.

I strongly recommend that at least 6 months before their 18th birthday, that all 17 year olds or their parents get free copies of their credit reports at A message such as “no report found”, or a similar message means there are no debts or accounts reported on that child’s social security number. A child’s credit reports should be checked every 2 or 3 years, and again at least 6 months prior to their 18th birthday.

If a minor child is a victim of identity theft, contact the Attorney General’s Office for your state and the local police to report the crime. The Identity Theft Resource Center,  is an excellent resource for correcting identity theft, whether the victim is an adult or a child.

As an adult, if you have not reviewed your credit report in the past 6 months, you should get free copies of your credit reports at the same website, The website provides one free credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus every 12 months; however, the website does not provide free credit scores. If you want your credit scores, you can purchase them on the website.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. An ideal credit score in this economy is over 700, preferably over 740. The most important thing anyone can do to increase their credit scores is to pay bills on time for at least 6 consecutive months. Having bill payments posted to your accounts on time is 35% of credit scores. In this economy, if you are not able to pay all of your bills on time every month, start with one bill. Pick one bill and commit to paying it on time every month. As your situation improves, add a second bill so that you are paying two bills on time every month and so on.

For additional information about understanding and increasing your credit scores, log on to the Free Downloads page of my website at

About the Author: Jennifer S. Matthews is an award-winning author, motivational speaker, and is trained as a financial coach. She is the author of the award-winning book 12 Ways to Put Money in Your Pocket Every Month Without A Part Time Job. The book shows readers how to create hundreds of dollars in cash every month from within their existing income. Visit Jennifer online at and sign up for her newsletter. You can also purchase her book, take advantage of free downloads, and much more.

© 2012 Creating Financial Literacy, LLC




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