The Bulletin

‘There are 5-year-olds that have five-year credit histories:’ Cracking down on foster care identity theft

By: - January 29, 2019 5:01 am
Virginia Mercury

During the course of their time in foster care, some children might pass through multiple foster homes and interact with a variety of adults, potentially placing their personal information at risk.

A bill sponsored by Del. Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, is aiming to eliminate that problem by freezing the youths’ credit report or record once they’ve been in foster care for at least six months to prevent identity theft.

“Unfortunately, there are 5-year-olds that have five-year credit histories,” Brewer told the House Appropriations Health and Human Resources subcommittee on Monday. “They’re aging out of foster care and their credit’s destroyed before they get a chance to kind of get moving.”

Nationally, about 10 percent of kids in foster care are affected, Carl Ayers, director of family services with the Department of Social Services, told the subcommittee. Virginia’s rates are about the same, meaning about 300 kids in the state annually have their credit information compromised.

The subcommittee voted unanimously to pass the bill on Monday, after it had already received the stamp of approval from the Committee on Commerce and Labor. Now it must get past the full Appropriations committee before it lands on the House floor.

The bill is part of the package of legislation aimed at improving Virginia’s foster care system.

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Katie O'Connor
Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.