Foster children are vulnerable to identity theft because of the transitory nature of their lives, according to a released Wednesday. They move frequently and their personal information is accessible by many people—relatives, foster parents, social workers and group home personnel.

“The Fleecing of Foster Children: How We Confiscate Their Assets and Undermine Their Financial Security” highlights the many ways we’re letting down America’s foster children and recommends to help. It was published by First Star, a national nonprofit that advocates for abused children, and the University of San Diego School of Law’s Children’s Advocacy Institute.

The research brings overdue attention to a growing problem of identity theft among foster youth. At any given time, more than 460,000 children are in foster care nationwide, according to federal figures. Each year 30,000 foster children leave the system when they turn 18 years old. Many of them don’t know their identities have been stolen and their credit destroyed until they have exited care and applied for a credit card.

“Foster children have all the factors to put them at the highest risk of identity theft,” said Identity Theft 911 Chief Executive Officer Matt Cullina, a licensed foster parent who has adopted three of his foster children. “This report is a step in the right direction because it creates awareness of the problem. The second step is to analyze the size and complexity of the problem and the third is to come up with solutions. If this is happening at the numbers we’re thinking, it’s a crisis.”

Identity Theft 911 has been working with parents and children to fight child identity theft for years. Identity theft against victims who are age 19 and younger accounted for 8 percent of all identity-theft complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission in 2010, up from 7 percent the previous year.

Identity theft victims spend an average of 330 hours repairing damage to their credit caused by identity theft, according to the report. Victims average more than $3,300 in lost wages due to the theft and, on average, incur more than $850 in expenses to repair the damage to their credit.

California and Connecticut have passed legislation aimed at protecting foster youth from identity theft by ensuring that a tarnished credit record or undeserved debt is not also part of their state system exit package. But still, it is not enough.

The report recommends that Congress pass the Foster Children Self-Supporting Act, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of California, and the Foster Youth Financial Security Act, proposed by Democratic Rep. James Langevin of Rhode Island.

Langevin’s legislation would help reduce identity theft risks by requiring foster care agencies to annually review the credit reports of children in their care and take steps to redress any identity theft or credit card fraud before the children age out of the system. It would also end the use of a child’s SSN as an identifier and help for older children get a driver’s license, open a bank account and apply for student loans.

In addition, the bill would provide financial literacy classes and seed money to set up Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for foster youth so they leave care with a nest egg to pay for housing, education, and job training.

Identity Theft 911 works to protect customers and their children against child identity theft with .

“As a service provider we look forward to collaborating with government, nonprofit organizations, caregivers and foster children to address this crime,” Cullina said.

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