As one who is frequently asked “What happens when I become the victim of identity theft?” or “How do I prevent myself from becoming the victim of identity theft?”, I am a pretty big fan of the FTC’s website and refer people to it often. FTC statistics indicate that it received more than 490,000 complaints from consumers about identity theft in 2015 alone, which was a 47 percent increase from 2014. This issue is just not going away any time soon.
When companies experience data breaches and provide notification letters to affected individuals, the FTC website is often included in the notification letter to provide individuals with additional information on how to protect themselves following a data breach of personal information.
The website has always been pretty good, but now it’s even better.
On January 28, 2016, which just happened to be International Privacy Day, the FTC released additional “significant enhancements” to its IdentityTheft.gov website.
The site now allows individuals to file an identity theft complaint with the FTC. After filing the complaint, a “personalized guide to recovery” for users is generated that will respond to the details of the complaint. It is intended to be unique to each complaint.
Each guide to recovery provides consumers with the tools necessary to inform law enforcement, credit bureaus, the IRS, financial institutions and governmental agencies of the fact that one has been the victim of identity theft, including form Affidavits and letters to send. It makes the process more streamlined and easy for consumers to take action after they have been victimized.
If you have ever been the victim of identity theft, you understand how complicated and difficult it can be to restore your identity. Any help from the federal government to assist consumers in this process, and to make it easier for us is great.
So if you have been the victim of identity theft, and don’t know what to do—check out www.IdentityTheft.gov now. It is one stop shopping for victims to obtain a personalized identity theft guide to recovery. Take advantage of it! It is available through mobile devices and in Spanish. Kudos to the FTC for launching this site to help consumers.