Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information, such as your age, name, birthdate, driver’s license or social security number without your permission or knowledge. Perpetrators of identity theft often use stolen personal information to open credit cards in your name, access your bank account, apply for loans, or even buy a car in your name! Identity theft is a serious problem in the United States and worldwide, and it doesn’t affect just adults. In fact, youth in foster care and transitioning into young adulthood are especially vulnerable to identity theft.
There are various factors that increase a youth’s risk of identity theft. During their time in foster care, a youth’s personal and sensitive information is often shared with a variety of people and agencies. In general, young people are more inclined than older adults to share personal information with friends and acquaintances on the Internet and on social media such as Facebook. Social media sites like Facebook have the greatest potential to put youth at risk of identity theft.
Some signs that your identity may have been stolen include:
If there are any signs that your identity has been stolen, you should contact your case worker and the SCDSS Identity Theft Coordinator immediately to help you dispute claims or take legal action. The SCDSS Identity Theft Coordinator, Mr. Thomas Robertson, can be reached by email or text at Thomas.Robertson@dss.sc.gov or by phone at 803-898-7209.
There are ways to protect yourself from identity theft. If someone asks you for your Social Security number, you should ask why they need it, how it will be used, how they will protect it, and what will happen if you choose not to share the number. Keep in mind there are some cases in which you must share your social security number such as when you apply for a loan or rent an apartment. Also be smart about what you share and who you share personal information with on social media sites. Click here for a tip list from Kids Matter Inc. on how to further protect yourself from identity theft.