To view your credit report, you typically have to provide the credit reporting agencies with your Social Security number. You’re also generally asked to answer some security questions, based on information on your credit file, to verify it is, in fact, you requesting the report. (Sample Q: What is the name of your student loan servicer?)
But, while a child or other close relative may be privy to some or all of this personal information, using it to access your credit report could get them into hot water.
“If you falsely use another person’s identification to request their report, you could be committing fraud, particularly if you do not have their permission,” Rod Griffin, Director of Public Education at Experian, said in an email.
That’s not to say your kids are totally barred from looking at your credit.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits access to a person’s credit history, but provides a few exceptions. Third parties, like landlords and even employers, for instance, can pull a version of your credit report with legal authorization — usually something you directly provide when you fill out your lease application or sign a background check form.
This type of authority could extend to your next of kin. For instance, power of attorney will enable the person assigned that authority to obtain the report of the individual for whom they have power of attorney, Griffin said.
So, for instance, if you were suffering from an illness that precluded you from managing your finances, your child could take over if you or a court gave them legal authorization to do so.
Keep in mind, you can pull your own credit reports for free once a year (go here to learn how) and show it to your child (or any friend or total stranger, as a matter of fact, though it’s generally a good idea to keep this personal information to yourself to minimize the odds of identity theft). So, if you were interested in using your credit report to teach your kid a financial literacy lesson, you could do it that way. You could also direct your child to materials that teach them about pulling and understanding their own credit. For instance, you and your family members can each view your free credit report summary, each month, on Credit.com.
[Offer: If you’re worried about errors on your credit reports, and you don’t want to go it alone, you can hire companies – like our partner Lexington Law – to manage the credit repair process for you. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]
More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:
- The Credit.com Credit Reports Learning Center
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life
Image: adrian brockwell