Foster kids who are about to leave the system and jump into the financial perils of adulthood will have an extra layer of protection against identity theft, thanks to a new law in Delaware.

I couldn’t be more excited about this new law, which will require the state’s Children’s Department to run credit reports for children in foster care when they turn 16 and help them learn more about credit and how it affects their future stability.

Many adolescents in the foster care system are susceptible to identity theft crimes because they move frequently and their personal information is accessible by a number of people. In many instances, they can go years without noticing they’ve been victimized. Then they must spend an inordinate amount of time resolving the issue.

That’s what happened to Lakeisha White of Bear, Delaware. The 18-year-old who used to be in foster care recently told that she lost her wallet, which contained her Social Security card, on a bus. She had no idea the incident negatively impacted her credit rating until long after it had happened. “It hurts me that someone took something so personal to me and used it against me in a bad way,” White said. Now she’s still trying to restore her good name and financial standing.

IDentity theft victims spend an average of 330 hours repairing damage to their credit caused by identity theft, according to the Fleecing of Foster Children, published by First Star, a national nonprofit that helps abused children. 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.

Research shows that 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, car loan or rental housing.

IDentity Theft 911 has been working with parents and children to fight child identity theft for years. We’ve developed a curriculum to teach foster youth about identity theft and financial literacy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Rhode Island.

 

 

Matt Cullina, Chief Executive Officer,
Matt has 15 years of insurance industry management, claims and product development experience. He spearheaded MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Co.’s personal product development initiatives, managed complex claims litigation and served as a corporate witness for Travelers Insurance and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.

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