“College and Starting Out at 18”

Your high school graduation is over.  Since junior year, you have been trying to decide on which university you will be attending and have taken several day trips to visit different campuses.  For the past two summers, you have been working two jobs and have been saving your money.  The world is your oyster, and you are sooooooo ready to leave the nest!

Business man on world2 200x300 “College and Starting Out at 18”

Housing has been narrowed down to  three apartments that you are interested in, but reality hits.  You realize that to maintain your current lifestyle with the cool phone, texting, internet, car, insurance, groceries, going out with friends, etc., that you need to take out a loan or get a credit card to pay for some of this, along with tuition and books.  No problem.  You have student loan options and have never had a credit card in your life.  So, you fill out applications for both.  Also you fill out applications for the apartments.

Something bad happens.  After having sent off the applications requesting to borrow money for current bills and a place to live, you receive denial letters from each of the companies.  This is ludicrous!  Why on earth are they denying you?  You’ve never borrowed money – ever – and they are saying that you have bad credit.  So, you have to get to the bottom of it and find out how and why you have bad credit.

Your rejection letters suggest you visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free credit report to determine where the bad credit is coming from.  You visit this site and print out the report.  To your dismay, you find several instances of loans being taken out and credit cards that went into default because of nonpayment.  This had taken place for several years without your knowledge.

Now, you are faced with a dilemma.  Housing is not available to you because of bad credit.  Loans are not available and neither are credit cards.  You are an identity theft victim and apparently have been for the past 5 years.  Now, you must dispute this with each of the three reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) and doing this is not an easy task.  What a way to start out one’s transition into adulthood.

Sadly, this happens more often than people might realize.  Identity thieves have no regard for age.  They will steal social security numbers (SSNs) from infants, deceased persons or living adults if they can get away with it.  SSNs are just numbers to them but are also a means to them finding employment, buying cars, taking luxurious trips, taking out loans, buying homes, etc.  They get hold of a person’s SSN and dispose of it, when it no longer has use to them.  Then, the unsuspecting owner of the SSN has to deal with the repercussions of the identity thieves’ actions.

To monitor your credit, it is recommended that you check on your credit history once every 6 months.  In the past, this wasn’t necessary for minors.  With the emergence of identity theft, random checks are becoming more important, especially for those wanting to borrow money for student loans, find housing, etc.   For children under 14, there typically are no credit reports.  A good way to check on this would be to call the 3 reporting agencies (Equifax 800-525-6285, Experian 888-397-3742, Trans Union 800-680-7289) and to ask for one.  If they don’t have anything on file, that is a good thing!  If your child is 14, then a report can be accessed atwww.annualcreditreport.com.  For more information on “everyday habits to safeguard your identity”, checkout BBB’s online suggestions athttp://www.bbb.org/us/storage/0/Shared%20Documents/secure%20your%20id%20day/everyday%20habits.pdf.

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About Kristal Heffley

Ad Review and Social Media Specialist of BBB serving Northern Indiana. Kristal spends a great deal of time learning, writing about, and educating the public on scams of the day. She also is quite the social-media enthusiast and community partner. You can follow her posts, i.e. BBB serving Northern Indiana on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and of course, our blog.