Identity theft happens. Nearly every day the news reports on identity theft. Whether it is a breach of some company’s data base containing our unique private information or a skimmer device on an ATM or gas pump, identity theft is a fact of life in our electronic world.
Most often the criminal never met or associated with the victim. Most often, the victims of identity theft cannot protect themselves from the attack. Victims of identity theft are often unaware of the crime until the effect of the theft appears on the victim’s credit report. Then the effect of a stolen identity can devastate the victim’s credit and accounts.
To help victims of identity theft, the government released an easy to use tool. Designed to be easy for people with little internet or technology experience, the government’s site helps victims recover their identity and reduce the impact of the theft. The Federal Trade Commission designed website provides clear and concise instructions to consumers, aiding them immensely in their fight against identity theft.
The site is https://www.identitytheft.gov/
The victim or the victim’s representative signs onto the Identity Theft Website. The site guides the user through the steps. The victim must have certain information available, like the date and amount of theft. To discover the date, the victim must examine banking or other account statements, identifying the first fraudulent purchase or use of identity, its location, and its date.
First, the site instructs victims to call the company where the incident occurred. Then, the site will require the person’s permission to freeze the accounts and stop the illicit spending spree. After the victim’s accounts are frozen, the victim must change all logins, passwords, PINs, and other personal data for the compromised account.
The site guides the user through the steps of setting up a fraud alert and requesting a full credit report.
Next, an online form alerts the Federal Trade Commission about the crime. Following the completion of this form, the system automatically creates an Identity Theft Affidavit for the victim. After the process has been completed, the website instructs victims to file a report with the local police, giving them instructions about what’s needed for the process, including an online memo to provide the police.
The FTC website gives identity theft victims the tools they need to fight against the egregious crime of identity theft. Helping victims recover their credit and report the wrongdoings to the police may help prevent thieves from preying upon future unsuspecting victims.