The Federal Trade Commission said it has finished work on upgrades to the identity theft reporting website – IdentityTheft.gov – that the agency launched last year, including features that are aimed at helping consumers recover more quickly from identity theft. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said those improvements include features that lead consumers through a list of questions about the circumstances of their identity theft, and produce a customized plan for them to deal with the theft, along with form letters and affidavits that they can use to notify credit reporting bureaus, the Internal Revenue service, police, and debt collectors.
“Should a consumer’s recovery run into issues, the site will suggest alternative approaches,” the FTC said. The site is also available in Spanish, it said.
Ms. Ramirez said today that even though the FTC received 490,000 consumer complaints about identify theft in 2015, the problem of identity theft is still “vastly under reported.” She cited Department of Justice statistics that say 17.6 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2014, and said that of the complaints received by the FTC last year, about 220,000 involved tax or wage-related identification theft.
Recovering from the impact of identity theft “can be a difficult and challenging personal experience” that can take months or years, Ms. Ramirez told reporters today. She said the FTC will work to further improve consumers’ experience with the site by streamlining interaction with credit bureaus.
“Millions of Americans have been victims of identity theft, and until now, there has not been a single site where they can quickly file an official complaint and then get real, personalized help,” Ms. Ramirez said in a statement. “The FTC’s new IdentityTheft.gov website empowers consumers to fight back faster and more effectively against identity thieves.”
The FTC Chairwoman also reiterated the desire of all of the current FTC Commissioners for Congress to approve federal data security legislation. “Data security is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society,” she said, adding that while “more remains to be done . . . national data security legislation is one of them.” – John Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org