Young people who go through foster care in Delaware will have added protection against identity theft and its possible damage to their credit rating.
18-year-old Lakeisha White of Bear has been in foster care, and has a two-year-old daughter of her own. About a year ago she lost her wallet on a bus, which contained a copy of her Social Security card. However, it has not been until the past few days that she discovered a negative impact on her credit rating.
“It hurts me that someone took something so personal to me and used it against me in a bad way,” White said. She is not sure who is using her personal information to spend in her name.
Legislation signed into law by Governor Jack Markell will assist people like Lakeisha White by offering a series of steps to help foster care children as they reach adulthood and “age out” of the care system. The bill’s chief House sponsor, State Representative Stephanie T. Boulden, D- Wilmington, said the measure authorizes and requires the state Children’s Department to run credit reports for each child in foster care once they turn age 16.
“With this particular population, they’re very vulnerable. They already have had trauma in their lives,” Delaware Children’s Department Secretary Vivian Rapposelli said. “Now, not only are they able to identify how their credit looks, but are able to understand what credit is, and to understand the importance and the value of credit as it relates to stability.”
Elizabeth Martinez of Wilmington, who has also been through foster care but has not had her identity stolen, said the law will benefit many young people in the state’s care. “They’re more in jeopardy of having their identity stolen,” Martinez said.
The struggle to deal with the ramifications of a stolen identity – and to find out who did it – continues for Lakeisha White.
“Now I know no one will ever have to go through what I have to go through right now.”