In a recent underpinning investigation in Wisconsin, WISN 12 news discovered that 2 foster children’s credit had been ruined even before they had applied for any line of credit. This baffled many individuals who were involved in the investigation and created questions as to how this even happened.
Jazmin (18) and Lakeitha Holt (20) claim their credit was ruined by individuals who were supposedly there to protect them. Jazmin Holt already owns a house and a car at her young age, according to her credit. But, in real life, she cannot even get approved for a credit card. She tried to get a credit card through Capitol One Bank, in her name when she first turned 18. Upon doing so, she received statements from the bank regarding a home mortgage, which she did not even apply for. Jazmin first suspected that something was going on when she started getting calls from debt collectors claiming that she owed $4,000 on a truck, which could not have been true because she did not even own a car. Jazmin claims at the time, she did not even suspect that someone may have stolen her identity.
The issue began when Jazmin, Lakeitha, and several other siblings were removed from their parent’s custody and put into foster care. The same happened to Lakeitha when she applied for a credit card at the age of 18. The credit card company denied her application for credit. Lakeitha then checked her credit report, which listed a 2004 bankruptcy filed in a woman’s name she recognized. Even more peculiar in this story, is that fact that Lakeitha was only 14 years old in 2004 and her credit report stated that she was already in bankruptcy at this age.
Senator Lena Taylor claims that Wisconsin does not trace identity theft problems amongst foster children and claims she has pressed the issue with Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families but has seen no move to protect foster kids’ credit. Although, a handful of other states have considered or enacted legislation concerning this vast issue. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law into action requiring credit checks for all foster kids at the age of 16 soon after discovering that more than half of the state’s foster kids had their identities tampered with.
Senator Taylor claims that she will push for similar legislation if the Department of Children and Families does not act and/or take the initiative of the matter at hand. For the past two months, WISN 12 News has tried relentlessly to interview DCF Secretary Reggie Bicha, who is in charge of the state’s foster care system but has declined in commenting upon the situation. Although, a statement was released on behalf of a spokeswoman who wrote, “While in Wisconsin we rank fairly low when it comes to the number of identity theft cases, we are concerned about the impact that this could have on foster youth.”
In response to the upheaval, the Department created a web page that would inform and educate foster children on identity theft and how to take action if this were to happen to them. Jazmin claims that she cannot get approved for even a cell phone. The identity theft has made it hard to do just about anything in her case. The Holt sisters claim they will try to repair their credit on their own and have proceeded in contacting the credit bureaus to start the process of unraveling the mess.