The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants you to know about a new law that went into effect last year that has the potential to help out some young people in foster care who are frequemntly victims of credit and identity fraud.
The new law, that took effect last September, lets parents and child welfare representatives of people under 16, as well as legal guardians to request a security freeze, also called a credit freeze, on their behalf. Taking this step can help protect a young person from identity theft and fraud. It is a free service under the new requirements.
CFBP points out that a security freeze won’t affect anything already on your credit report , but it restricts access to your report. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts using personal information. As a result of the law change it is now free to freeze and unfreeze your credit file at the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Children and youth in foster care can become victims of identity theft and credit fraud because their information, including Social Security numbers are available to so many adults—some not as concerned about the child or young person’s best interests.
Under the new law, young people in foster care have a different route to protection. Parents need to show proof of their authority, like a birth certificate, to freeze or unfreeze the credit file for their child under 16 but new provisions allow the child welfare or probation agency representatives acting on behalf of a young person in foster care to request a security freeze for that child. This requires documentation that the child is in the agency’s care. Documentation includes written communication or an official letter from the child welfare or probation agency or its designee. Child welfare agencies who already work with consumer reporting agencies to pull and review credit reports for youth in their care can use the same company contacts and liaisons to facilitate the security freeze process.
According to the CFPB you can find contact information for placing a free credit freeze contact IdentityTheft.gov/creditbureaucontacts .
For more information about security freezes for children in foster care settings, read the CFPB’s guidance . For more information about child identity theft, read the FTC’s Child Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do