The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 requires each youth age 16 and older in foster care receive a copy of any consumer credit report each year until discharged from foster care, and youth must be assisted in interpreting the credit report and resolving any inconsistencies.
For youth who turn age 16 and 17 while in care or come into care at age 16 or 17, the credit history will be obtained by Central Office. Staff will receive notification on their youth via e-mail that the information was submitted through an agreement with TransUnion. This is the date staff will be record on the Adolescent Family Support Team Guide (CD94). Staff will be notified if there are credit discrepancies and/or inaccuracies but will not receive a “report” for youth age 16 or 17.
For youth age 18 and older, free credit reports from three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies can be requested online at AnnualCreditReport.com, by phone at 1-877-322-8228, or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing the completed form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 303048-5281. All three reports may be requested at once or ordered one at a time. Ordering separately allows monitoring of credit more frequently throughout the year.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized source for the free annual credit report that can be obtained per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Because the information in credit reports is used to evaluate applications for credit, insurance, employment, and renting a home, the information needs to be accurate and up-to-date. Any information regarding a youth with a credit history should be shared with the youth. For 18, 19, and 20 year olds there may be legitimate negative items due to late payments or debts. Regardless of the reason steps should be taken to help resolve these issues if possible. The Children’s Service Worker should assist youth in interpreting the credit report and resolving any inconsistencies. Information to assist with interpretation and education can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting company and the information provider (the person, company, or organization that provides information to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in reports. When reviewing the report with youth, if there are accounts that are not recognized or information that is inaccurate, there is concern for identity fraud. Identity fraud is when a consumer whose means of identification or financial information is used or transferred without authorization from the consumer.
Examples of concern would be credit cards that the youth has not opened, utility bills in the youth’s name that were prior to the youth residing on his/her own, or car purchases if the youth does not have a vehicle.
If the Children’s Service Worker suspects identity fraud, the Family Support Team and the Division of Legal Services (investigations and/or litigation section) should be consulted to determine if an investigation or referral to law enforcement is necessary. If the youth’s identity has been compromised the worker should send a referral to the Division of Legal Services so the necessary legal steps to correct the problem can be taken. Notice should be provided to the youth’s Juvenile Officer and Guardian Ad Litem about the report findings.
If there is a need to further educate youth regarding credit, Children’s Service Workers should address this on the Adolescent Family Support Team Guide (CD94) and Individualized Action Plan Goals (CD94) by creating new goals. The Chafee provider will assist with identified tasks of the new goals.
The Adolescent FST Guide (CD94) should be updated to reflect that the credit report has been received on a yearly basis, beginning when the youth turns 16 or comes into care after age 16 and each subsequent year thereafter while in foster care.
All documentation pertaining to the credit checks should be filed in the Older Youth Section of the youth’s record i.e. request form, credit report, e-mail correspondence from Central office.
As this is life skill teaching, documentation of this service should also be included on the NYTD Older Youth Services and Financial Expenditures Screen in FACES