How identity theft can impact foster youth
Written by a NortonLifeLock employee
Against all odds, Caren’s aging out of the foster youth system and ready to strike out on her own. By all accounts, she’s done quite well — graduating from high school, attending college, and earning $30,000 a year working part-time as a store manager. She even bought a car and has three months’ rent saved to get an apartment.
The problem is, Caren’s birth mother stole her identity and ruined Caren’s credit history. As a result, no one will rent to her. Caren’s transitional housing is about to end, and she’ll soon have no place to live.
Why foster youth become victims of identity theft
Caren isn’t her real name, but she’s a real victim of child identity theft, something that’s all too common among foster youth. That’s because of all the people who have access to a foster child’s documentation and personal information — biological parents, any number of foster parents, foster agencies and program personnel.
In this case, Caren’s biological mother used her identity for cable television and other household bills. This apparently went on for years. When Caren discovered the problem, she could’ve filed a police report, but she worried what would happen to her mother. She also worried what would happen to her siblings who still live at home with her mother.
So, Caren faces homelessness instead.
“Foster youth have so much that’s out of their control,” said Eva Velasquez, CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center. “Not only is their information being shared and, unfortunately, often not in a secure way, they don’t have that parent or guardian behind them, trying to help.”
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