Of all the challenges foster children go through and all the challenges adoptive parents tackle to create their families, identity theft shouldn’t be one of them. But it is. With many foster children living in a variety of homes before adoption, there are several adults who have access to their social security numbers and other vital information, KSAT in San Antonio reported. So theft of a foster child’s identity is not only fairly easy, but also somewhat common.
Courtney Friedman of KSAT reported this week on one adoptive family who has experienced identity theft more than once. Brandon and Shanna Wheeler have adopted 8 foster children. They usually find out about the identity theft around tax time when they file their taxes. A letter comes back from the IRS saying that someone has already claimed the child, and the process begins. The Wheelers told KSAT that although they have reported this theft to all the proper agencies (IRS, Medicaid, CPS) they have never been able to find out exactly who has stolen their children’s identities.
Identity theft of foster children has become so prevalent that in 2011 congress passed a bill giving ever foster child a free credit check before they age out of the system.
According to KSAT, the Wheelers recommend getting a new social security number for your child as soon as adoption takes place. The Social Security Administration allows a change of social security number for only two reasons: proven identity theft and domestic abuse. Most foster children will qualify for at least one of these reasons. To request a new social security number, gather birth and adoption records and any confirmed records of abuse or theft. You must take these in-person to a social security office to have the new number issued.