Identity theft victims for the first time can go online and get a free, personalized identity theft recovery plan as a result of enhancements to the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov website.
The new website is integrated with the FTC’s consumer complaint system, allowing consumers who are victims of identity theft to rapidly file a complaint with the FTC and then get a personalized guide to recovery that helps streamline many of the steps involved.
The site, which is mobile and tablet accessible, offers tools allowing identity theft victims to create the documents they need to alert police, the main credit bureaus and the IRS.
“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,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The FTC’s new IdentityTheft.gov website empowers consumers to fight back faster and more effectively against identity thieves.”
Last year, the FTC received more than 490,000 consumer complaints about identity theft, representing a 47% increase over the prior year, and the Department of Justice estimates that 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014.
The updated website provides a range of new features designed to make the recovery process as easy as possible for consumers. It now walks consumers through a simplified step-by-step checklist that is tailored to the specific type of identity theft they are facing. The advice consumers receive is not generic, but instead customized for their individual needs.
When a consumer initiates a response plan through IdentityTheft.gov, the site will automatically generate affidavits and pre-fill letters and forms to be sent to credit bureaus, businesses, police, debt collectors and the IRS. Should a consumer’s recovery run into issues, the site will suggest alternative approaches. Once a consumer completes their initial report on the site, they will receive follow up e-mails and can return to their personalized plan online to continue the recovery process.
IdentityTheft.gov is also available in Spanish at RobodeIdentidad.gov, and allows Spanish-speaking consumers to view the automatically generated letters and other documents in Spanish, but print them in English for sending to the relevant recipients.
The upgraded site is the FTC’s answer to an executive order issued by President Obama in October of 2014 directing federal agencies to create a consolidated site with essential information for consumers. An initial version was launched in May 2015 with checklists for consumers based on certain types of identity theft.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said, "Identitytheft.gov is a vital resource as identity theft has reached epidemic levels. As most Americans know, we live in an age when it's not a matter of if, but when you will become a victim of identity theft. The FTC's website is a great place for consumers to go for practical and personalized help to recover from the financial mess created by identity theft."
“Local law enforcement is often the first place identity theft victims turn for help,” said Mary Gavin, Chief of Police for Falls Church, VA, and an Executive Committee member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "IdentityTheft.gov will be a powerful tool to help police assist victims, and the information victims report to the FTC can help law enforcers build cases."