Cordray’s agency to help foster kids avoid ID theft

WASHINGTON — A federal consumer-protection agency issued rules yesterday designed to prevent
children in foster care from becoming the victims of identity theft that could plague them with
fraudulent debts on their credit reports.

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a former Ohio attorney
general, announced the changes yesterday, saying that the federal government wants to help ensure
that young people “leave foster care with clean credit so that they have a firm foundation for
their financial future.”

Issuing what it calls “action letters,” the bureau said that because credit reports should
generally not even exist for minors, when a caseworker finds one, he or she will have the
opportunity to dispute every item on that report with the credit bureau.

In addition, caseworkers will have the authority to notify the credit bureau that a foster youth
age 18 or older has discovered errors in his or her credit reports.

Nearly 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States. Officials said the changes are
needed because most foster-care youth do not have a permanent address, while information about them
is often shared by adults and agency databases.

Dispatch reported in 2012 that while identity theft is a problem for Americans, children
are often “a favorite prey for criminals.”

One eighth-grade girl who had her identity stolen discovered that she owed $150,000 on a
mortgage and credit cards.

In 2012, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wrote the public services agencies in the state and
offered to help them enforce a new federal requirement that every young person in the foster system
ages 16 to 18 is to have his or her annual credit reports checked.

DeWine’s office eventually examined 38 reports.

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