The California Office of Privacy Protection (COPP) released a report detailing a year-long effort to clear innocent children’s damaged credit ratings. The report highlights 247 instances where credit accounts were reported in the identities of Los Angeles County foster children, including in one case, a home loan.
A foster child’s sensitive information passes through many hands, which can expose the child to identity theft. A Better Start: Clearing Up Credit Records for California’s Foster Children reveals how the state successfully resolved problems for a test group of southern California children.
In 2010, the California Office of Privacy Protection led the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services in a pilot project to research and clear up the credit records of 2,110 foster children in Los Angeles County. The project team found and cleared 247 separate accounts from the records of 104 16- and 17-year-olds. The account balances averaged $1,811, with the largest a $217,000 home loan.
The Office of Privacy Protection created the pilot project to work on the mechanics of identifying and clearing the records of minors. The effort was designed to identify what processes were necessary to implement a 2006 California law intended to clear foster children’s credit records before they leave the system at 18 years of age. The report describes new procedures for future use in helping this vulnerable population.
The report is available on the COPP Web site: http://www.privacy.ca.gov/res/docs/pdf/Foster_Youth_Report_FINAL.pdf
The California Office of Privacy Protection (www.privacy.ca.gov) provides consumers with information and assistance on identity theft and other privacy concerns and makes best practice recommendations to businesses and other organizations.