Fostered young people are being helped to guard their IT identities under a new project led by Symantec, the huge US cyber security company.
Technology users in this category were chosen as many become identity theft targets before the age of 18 and have their credit destroyed. One report, backed by the American Bar Association seven years ago, found up to half of foster youth had been identity theft victims.
California-based Symantec is providing services and resources, including cyber security education, access to its Norton anti-virus software and its identity theft protector LifeLock, and help for participants thereby to build a good credit history.
The company has brought in its employees to mentor, provide program training, and work with public officials to strengthen protection policies.
The program, being known as Fostering a Secure Tomorrow, is being piloted in the Californian cities of Phoenix, San Diego and Santa Clara.
Fran Rosch, vice-president and general manager of Symantec’s consumer business, said: “Foster youth move often, and more people have access to their personally identifiable information, which makes them vulnerable to identity theft.
“We are uniquely equipped, with our Norton and LifeLock consumer solutions and services, to help these kids, as we are a world-leading cyber security organization that can provide not only the security software, but the educational training and restoration services as well, to help these young people learn to better protect their information and restore their identities when necessary.”
Eva Velasquez, chief executive and president of the Identity Theft Resource Center, headquartered in California, one of Symantec’s first partners in the project, said: “Nationwide, there is an opportunity to directly educate at least 76,000 foster youths aged 16 and older on ways to prevent identity theft and credit fraud.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Symantec on this innovative pilot program and helping them with research to uncover the latest data around this critical issue.
“Our goal is to uncover important findings that will help us all to improve our approach to how we can better protect the identities of these foster children and young adults.”
Symantec’s other initial partners are three non-profits – the Bill Wilson Center, a social support group in Santa Clara; Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, a family support organization in California; and Arizona, and Promises2Kids, a San Diego fostering help group – and several community groups, including TechSoup Global, headquartered in California, an NGO giving technical support to non-profits.