What If My Child Has Debt on Their Credit Report?

There’s no law or policy that establishes that children must reach a minimum age before the national credit bureaus begin compiling a credit file on them. (That’s why children can be the victims of identity theft—because fraudsters can use their identities to open bank accounts and credit cards in their names.) So what if a child has debt on their credit report? What then?

The Age of Majority

Under New York law, minor children cannot enter into a legally binding contract before they reach “the age of majority,” which, in most states, including New York, is 18 years old. Therefore, if a child signs a contract when they are still underage, the contract can be nullified, and they cannot be required to pay a debt that they acquired when they were underage.

In other words, according to New York law, minors are not responsible for debts they incur while underage.

That means underage children cannot file for a credit card or other account in their name. This causes some confusion because parents can get a child a credit card to carry. That is true, but the child is only an authorized user. They are not the account owner. The credit card remains solely the parent’s account, and it’s the parent’s responsibility to pay all the charges. So if a parent’s credit card is reported on the child’s credit report, that’s an error.

Similarly, a parent could co-sign or otherwise approve an underage child’s entering into a contract. But this means the parent, not the child, would be responsible for the debt.

The Right to Learn and Challenge Information

To find out if there is any debt on a child’s account, parents should review their children’s credit report—which is accessible by using their children’s Social Security Number—to discover what may be there.

To do that, they can obtain free credit reports for their kids just as they can ask for their own reports. And it’s important to note that parents and legal guardians have the right to contest any errors on their child’s report, just as they can challenge any errors on their credit information.

If you have had any issues with the national credit bureaus, including misreporting of your child’s credit information, contact an attorney specializing in representing clients like you. The Credit Report Law Group can not only help you correct your credit record, but the firm can also help you obtain compensation for any damages you have sustained.