New law protects foster kids from identity theft

By DAVID KLEPPER | October 9, 2011 | 12:35 PM EDT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A new federal law co-sponsored by a Rhode Island congressman includes a requirement that states run credit checks on older foster children to protect them from identity theft, something child welfare advocates say is a troubling trend.

The law, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (LAN'-jih-vin), directs child welfare officials to resolve cases of identity theft so foster children can enter adulthood with a clean slate.

Studies show foster children face greater risks of identity theft than adults or other children. They often don't realize their identity has been exploited until they apply for credit as young adults. Biological family members are often the culprit.

Langevin says it's "outrageous" that foster children are victimized when they already face tough challenges. He'd like to expand the law to require annual credit checks for all foster children.