Elizabeth writes with a common question: what do you do if you have no credit history? Here’s her story.

What would you recommend for a young person who has no credit history, but would like some (without having the long-term hassle of credit cards and credit card debt) because it would make identity verification easier?

I’m a college student trying to get my savings and IRA account (started as custodial accounts when I was 11) switched to my name. However, this company needs some verification of my identity from a third party, even though I showed them my passport, they know my social security number, etc. The traditional way this third party company verifies identity is through credit history, of which I have none (having no credit cards). I could of course, get some statement billed to my permanent address and verify it via fax and paperwork, but I’m wondering if this lack of a credit history will be a problem in the future.

Also, a lack of credit history is inexcusable if you’re trying to get an apartment (where they check your credit and references from other landlords). I live in the Bay Area, and won’t be getting a house any time soon. How have other people gotten around that in the past?

To make it clear, I do not want a long-term credit card. I can’t stress this enough. I have a debit card which works fine and am presently saving towards retirement. I would still like to alleviate future hassle by proving to anonymous bureaucrats that I exist, and am who I say I am.

What about it, readers? Have any of you dealt with this problem in the past? What suggestions can you offer Elizabeth?