FOSTER CREDIT CHECK
Helping you navigate the Federal Credit Check Mandate
for Youth in Foster Care
WHAT IS THE REQUIREMENT?
The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 (Public Law No. 112-34) requires all state child welfare agencies to ensure that youth in foster care who are 16 and older receive a free copy of any credit reports annually and get assistance in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies on reports. In 2014, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (PL 113-183) was enacted that lowered the age to 14.
To comply with this law, child welfare agencies have arrangements with the three nationwide credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Caseworkers can request the information online for an individual youth or they can make a batch request to pull the reports for multiple foster youth at the same time.
WHY THIS PROVISION?
Youth in foster care are vulnerable to credit errors due to inaccurate reporting, identity theft, and because many people have access to their personal information as they move from one place to the next. These errors present major barriers for youth when transitioning out of the foster care system and into adulthood.
HOW DO I ACCESS CREDIT REPORTS?
Depending on the age of the youth, the process for accessing credit reports varies. See below for details on how to obtain a credit report.
Reports can be requested electronically from each credit bureau. Start by connecting with the Credit Reporting Agencies.
Check with your county! As a result of the federal credit check mandate, the credit reporting agencies created specific channels to enable Child Welfare Agencies to access reports electronically for youth in care. For more information:
Steps on how to check if your county has access to credit check sites with the bureaus.
WHAT IF THERE'S A PROBLEM?
What should I do if there is an error on a credit report or evidence of identity theft for a youth in foster care?
Work with the youth to either dispute errors or resolve identity theft
Young people need to understand credit and how a good credit score can help them in their transition to adulthood. Caseworkers, volunteers, and mentors can provide the education and support that young people need to make credit work for them, and to avoid credit and identity theft problems in the future.