Victims of identity theft don’t always need to file a police report, explains the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an alert.
In an effort to help simplify the recovery process for identity theft victims, the FTC has created a government portal at IdentityTheft.gov. Victims just need to register with this page and answer some questions.
Upon successfully providing the details of what happened to them, IdentityTheft.gov takes a victim’s information and uses it to build three helpful resources: a personal recovery plan; pre-filled letters the victim can send to merchants, banks, and others affected by the identity theft; and an “Identity Theft Report,” or an official statement of what transpired.
Seena Gressin, an attorney with the FTC’s Division of Consumer & Business Education, elaborates on how victims can use these reports in the consumer information alert:
“In most cases, you can use your Identity Theft Report in place of a police report to clear your account and credit records of transactions that resulted from the identity theft. That’s because when you use IdentityTheft.gov, you’re reporting the crime to the Federal Trade Commission, a federal law enforcement agency. Just like when you file a police report, you’re legally obligated to tell the truth to the best of your knowledge, and subject to criminal penalties if you don’t. That makes your Identity Theft Report powerful evidence that you’re telling the truth.”
The hope is that IdentityTheft.gov will allow the FTC to streamline the process of helping victims while allowing local police to focus on solving other crimes. That being said, victims should still file a police report if they know the individual who stole their identity, if the culprit used their name in an encounter with the police, or if someone affected by the crime demands the victim produce a police report.
To learn about additional strategies that can help someone recover their identity, please click here.