I’m a caseworker for a youth in foster care. What should I do if there is an error on a credit report or evidence of identity theft for a youth in foster care?
There are a few steps you can take:
- Review the credit report with the youth and verify whether he or she recognizes the items on his or her credit report.
- Check with your own agency for the name and contact information of your designated point of contact at the credit bureau and what the specific dispute process is for that bureau.
- To dispute an item on a youth’s credit report that is incorrect, the credit bureau may require the following documents:
- A cover letter addressed to the credit bureau containing:
- The personal identification information of the youth
- A brief summary of the dispute, including an explanation of the error and, if the error pertains to an account in the name of the youth (such as a cell phone), any documentation of the error (such as a bill or receipt that provides evidence of payment)
- Contact information for the person at the state agency where results should be sent
- You may also be asked to provide supporting documents, such as:
- A copy of the court order authorizing the agency to act on behalf of the youth
- A certified copy of the foster youth’s birth certificate
- The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Uniform Minor Status Declaration Form
If you suspect that the youth has been or will be a victim of identity theft —for example, an account or loan has been opened in the youth’s name– you can request that the credit bureau place a 90-day fraud alert in the youth’s file. Fraud alerts require creditors to verify an identity before granting credit, making it harder for a thief to open fraudulent new accounts.
You can also request a seven year fraud alert if you submit an identity theft report to demonstrate that an identity theft has occurred. To create an identity theft report, follow the FTC ’s instructions at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0277-create-identity-theft-report. The young person does not have to file a police report. You can also request a credit freeze, which stops creditors from getting your credit report until you lift the freeze, although in some states there is a fee to lift the freeze.
Your state may have additional protections for youth related to credit activity and identity theft.
Example: The state of Maryland allows parents or guardians to proactively request the credit bureaus to create a credit record for a minor child and then place a security freeze on the record to protect against identity theft.