How Can A Minor Get Their Credit Report?

“Why can’t I get my credit report?” one of our 16-year-old readers (obviously precocious in the personal finance responsibility department) wanted to know. It seems if someone under 18 tries to get it online, say through annualcreditreport.com, they’re told no. It turns out you can order your report, you just need to do it by an old-fashioned letter. You’ll want to to include in your request your name, address, and Social Security number. This is good not just for go-get-em kids like our reader who want to make sure no one is buying a $40,000 boat with their credit, but also parents who want to protect their children from identity theft. The addresses for each of the bureaus follow.

TransUnion
2 Baldwin Place
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

Experian
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

REFERENCE
Protect Your Children’s Credit with a Freeze! [Ask Marian]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. IphtashuFitz says:

    Is there a minimum age at which the credit bureaus start tracking a person? Is it just based on the first time a person shows up on their proverbial radar?

  2. davebg5 says:

    @IPHTASHUFITZ: It took me almost two years to get my first credit card in college b/c the credit agencies had an error on my credit report that alleged that I had defaulted on some type of loan/payment when I was eight years old.

  3. Buran says:

    … WTF? Why the age discrimination?

  4. mac-phisto says:

    @IphtashuFitz: crbs technically don’t “track people”, they track the data reported to them by their customers (banks, collection agencies,etc.).

    a person shouldn’t have data with a crb before they are 18 as they cannot legally enter into a contract before that age. i guess the “authorized user” loophole allowed some to generate credit w/o entering into a contract, but i can’t imagine any other legitimate reason that a minor would have a credit history (good or bad).

  5. mac-phisto says:

    @davebg5: i had a sears card 7 years before i was born, two mortgages before the age of 10 & a $12,000 credit line with chemical bank by the time i was 14.

    ahh! the joys of being a 3rd.

  6. lincolnparadox says:

    I just ordered Lifelock for my kid (he’s seven). I’ll post back about how well it goes, but it takes about 30 days to set up the kid accounts. Quite frankly, if this service prevents him from getting a credit card until he’s graduated from college, it’s 100% worth it.

  7. Buran says:

    @mac-phisto: Wow, they really are paying child labor real wages these days!

  8. Buran says:

    @lincolnparadox: If anyone told me what I could and couldn’t do once I turned 18, there’d be hell to pay, best intentions or not. I think the legality of blocking such things past 18 is something you should look into.

  9. catcherintheeye says:

    @mac-phisto: Technically, in most states I believe, a person under the age of 18 can enter into most contracts, but said contract may be enforced or voided at the discretion of the minor. The reason most people won’t enter into a contract with a minor is not because the contract is void (it’s still valid), but because fulfilling the terms of the contract is entirely up to the minor, and if he/she doesn’t, you’re out of luck.

    However, if the contract is for a necessity – say food, rent or necessary medical attention, the minor can be held liable for said contract.

  10. savvy999 says:

    So, any thoughts out there… if I got a credit card in my kid’s name (who is 3), and used it appropriately (make small purchases, pay it off), would she not have an awesome credit score when she is 18?

  11. ionerox says:

    @SAVVY999

    My ex-bf’s dad did just that, with both of them on the account. I believe they waited until he was in his teens to get the card, but it was pretty neat when we were at university- my ex did all the grocery shopping for both my house and his dad’s house, all on his dad’s tab.

  12. @Buran: I don’t get that either. If they can get it through the mail, why stop them from getting it online? Their web site is supposedly secure enough for people 18 and older to use so what’s wrong with it that a 17 year old can’t use it?

  13. mac-phisto says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: i would imagine part of it is this –> [www.coppa.org]

    & part has to do with FACTA. free reports are basically a trade-off…we get free reports & we basically waive the right to sue credit reporting bureaus (we can still sue the businesses that report inaccurate info). by obtaining the reports, you are entering into a contract with the crbs. as catcherintheeye stated previously, contracts with minors are unenforceable (not illegal).

  14. sven.kirk says:

    Technically, anybody under 18 should NOT have a credit history at all (excluding “special situations”). %99 of CC offers require applicants be at least 18.
    BUT!
    Some applications do get through. In most situations that I have seen, is because the parent has/had horrible credit, and “had” to get a card through other means. Easy access to a “clean” SSN. The CC company sees the “clean” credit, and issues the card. Parents use it for anything and everything. Don’t pay, and ruin their kids future. It happens all the time.

    MOST of all identity theft happens from family members. So those kids who need to freeze their credit report, are probably SOL already by their family.

  15. sleepydumbdude says:

    I don’t know if this shows up on the credit report but my old roommate couldn’t get the electric bill in his name because he owed the company over 1,000 bucks. It was because his parents put the bill in his name when he was 13 because they owed them money too. I actually know more than a few people who have had the same problem. This is in Evansville with Vectren. I’d be ultra pissed if I found out I owed money for something my parents did way back and couldn’t get electricity because of it.

  16. gina227 says:

    @SLEEPYDUMBDUDE My ex’s parents put various utility bills in the names of all four of their children at different times and then never paid them off. They’d put in under one kid, run up a bill, wait till it got turned off, and switch to the next kid. Scumbags. But anyway, I don’t believe it went on their credit reports, but they weren’t able to get their own accounts for utilities when they moved out and got their own places.

  17. RvLeshrac says:

    @gina227:

    Considering that’s fraud, ergo illegal, and identity theft, since it is illegal to use someone else’s SSN without their agreement (which is implicit in, say, signing your kid up for school, but not for taking out a line of credit), they should have sued the holy hell out of their parents.

    If they didn’t, well, that’s their fault.

  18. Dyscord says:

    This is something that the credit card companies can EASILY fix. Just pay attention to the birthday field or something. Or if your SSN had your birthday attached. That would be a BIG help.