Although children generally don’t carry around personal identification information such as credit cards or licenses, their identities still can be targeted.
In fact, to identity thieves, the untarnished identities and “clean-slate” credit histories of children may be even more desirable than those of adults.
Children and teenagers have Social Security numbers, but they generally do not check to see if they have credit reports. This means that an imposter could use their identity and ruin their credit history years before the crime is detected.
Typically, not until the child turns 18, signs up for a credit card, or applies for an apartment lease will he or she realize the existence of the credit report and the identity theft that caused it. Once the victim discovers the crime, it is usually up to him to correct the problems.
Children in foster care can be at a greater risk for having their personal information compromised because many individuals or organizations have access to their personal information.
Because of the increased risk of identity theft for children in foster care, Attorney General DeWine recently offered assistance to the county public children services agencies. These agencies are charged with meeting a new federal mandate that requires youth 16 years or older and within the foster care system to have their credit checked. The mandate also requires the clearance of any errors found on their credit reports prior to the child aging out of the foster care system.
As the county public children services agencies conduct annual credit checks for foster youth ages 16 to 18, any errors found will be handled by the recently formed Identity Theft Unit within the Consumer Protection Section of the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
The Attorney General recently sent a letter to the county public children services agencies explaining this service and including an affidavit to be filled out by youths found to have errors on their credit reports. After assisting the foster youth in checking his credit report, county public children services agencies will send the report and the affidavit to the Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit to work on resolving any issues that may have been discovered.
The Identity Theft Unit also provides services to any Ohioan seeking to remedy the effects of alleged identity theft.