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Foster Youth & Identity Theft

Youth in foster care are a vulnerable class when it comes to identity theft.  They may become victims at the hands of their care providers or family members who have access to their personal information.  Often these youth have no knowledge that they are victims of identity theft until after they are adults. Providing foster youth with access to their credit information, guidance in interpreting that information, and ensuring appropriate changes and corrections are made can help guarantee that identity theft does not hinder their success once they begin living independently.

New Legislation

Recently new legislation has been adopted to aide in protecting foster youth from identity theft.  The “Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act” added an entirely new section to 42 U.S.C. 675(5) concerning foster youth ID theft.  The language provides that:

“[E]ach child in foster care under the responsibility of the State who has attained 16 years of age receives without cost a copy of any consumer report (as defined in section 603(d) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act) pertaining to the child each year until the child is discharged from care, and receives assistance (including, when feasible, from any court-appointed advocated for the child) in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report.”  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c112:1:./temp/~c1126BZROi:e26985:#

The Act’s effective date is October 1, 2011.  As a result CLC attorneys will need to pay special attention to their older clients’ credit history. The law provides that attorneys are responsible for going through reports with their client’s and seeing to it that any and all inaccuracies contained in those reports are corrected.  Any relevant court action will be in the hands of attorneys appointed by the court.

As mentioned in our April 2011 practice point, “Identity Theft and Your Client,” CLC feels it is important that you counsel your client on how to prevent, detect and recover from identity theft. Identity theft issues can be complex, expensive and time consuming.  As a result, CLC envisions that its volunteer attorneys will be particularly proactive and persistent when working with the court and social service agencies on this issue. Please note the following link to CLC’s practice point on this issue:  April 2011 Practice Point

Please contact CLC with any questions on addressing the issue of identity theft with your clients.