Why My Kid Has A Credit Card

By Julie Watts

Julie WattsJulie Watts NewsMom is the KPIX Consumer-Investigative reporter and a mom. Her #NewsMom Blog on CBSSF offers a unique perspective on issues facing Bay Area parents. 

Julie’s independent website NewsMom.com
features “News, Reviews and Resources for Moms, by Moms Who Report the News.” Follow @newsmomdotcom on Facebook & Twitter


(CBS-SF #NewsMom Blog) – For years I’ve covered ID Theft.

I’ve interviewed convicted thieves who shared the tricks of the trade. I’ve interviewed victims of all ages. I’ve even pressured lawmakers to increase protections against ID Theft.

Needless to say, it is a topic that I have long been passionate about, but becoming a mother has caused me to look at the issue from a new perspective.

Recently I reported on a family that was unable to insure three out of four kids because their social security numbers were already in use—by a thief in another state.

While researching the story, I came across this study from Carnegie Mellon that found children’s identities may be 51 percent more likely to be stolen than adults’. One in 10 children studied were victims of ID theft!

Think about it—a child won’t apply for a loan or credit card until they are at least 18. That leaves years for an identity thief to use the number.

So, when I got my own baby girl’s social security card, I knew I couldn’t just stick it in a hidden file and call it safe. I was determined to freeze her credit.

For me to freeze my own credit was no problem—in fact, I did it on camera in less than 10 minutes!

But to freeze my child’s credit was another story. Without an existing credit record (which she wouldn’t have unless her ID had already been stolen), there was nothing to freeze, from the bureau’s point of view. And only a few states have legislated that the credit bureaus must allow parents to freeze their children’s credit.

Here in California, we don’t have that right.

So I got into #NewsMom mode and contacted my state’s attorney general, Kamala Harris. Repeatedly. Emails, messages and conversations with a press secretary did nothing to get me a response from her, despite the fact that she had recently held a press conference on the dangers of ID theft.

I also tried lawmakers who had spoken out about protections against ID theft for Californians. Another brick wall.

So I gave up and got creative and found a loophole.

Check out “Why My Toddler Has A Credit Card” for details on that loophole at NewsMom.com.

And see “How I Forced The Bureaus To Freeze My Child’s Credit” for details on how to freeze your child’s credit. 

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