Maybe it’s a suspicious tax document flagged by your HR staff or a customer concern about an unauthorized charge. Identity theft can reveal itself in many ways. Regardless of the tip-off, there’s a new one-stop federal resource – IdentityTheft.gov – to help people report and recover from ID theft.
Last year, the FTC got more than 330,000 complaints related to ID theft. You probably received some, too, from employees, customers, family, and friends. In those initial jarring hours after people find out it’s happened to them, what they really need is a recovery plan – and that’s just what IdentityTheft.gov offers.
It starts with four essential do-it-now steps to take at the first sign of identity theft. Once people have their bearings, the site walks them through “what to do next” actions, complete with checklists and sample letters.
Why the new approach? Last fall, the President signed an Executive Order calling on the FTC and other agencies to streamline resources to make it easier for ID theft victims to recover. By breaking it down step-by-step, IdentityTheft.gov connects people to government agencies and other groups essential to that process, including the IRS, Social Security Administration, local consumer protection offices, and credit bureaus.
And there’s more to come. Future enhancements to the site will let people create a customized plan based on their specific experience.
Speaking of steps, here are three things your business can do to help.
1. Tell employees about IdentityTheft.gov. Victims of ID theft spend hours online and on the phone just trying to get accurate information. By organizing key resources systematically, IdentityTheft.gov can put them in the fast lane on the road to recovery. Consider naming a trusted member of your HR team to talk to employees about ID theft prevention and IdentityTheft.gov.
2. Publicize IdentityTheft.gov to your customers. Suppose a consumer contacts your company about an unauthorized charge or unapproved account. Many businesses already have a protocol in place for employees to follow. What about adding the simple step of mentioning IdentityTheft.gov?
3. Talk up identity theft prevention and recovery in your community. Everyone knows someone who has been the victim of ID theft. That’s why identity theft prevention and recovery is a perfect pet project for your industry association or community group. Start by taking the simple step of sharing IdentityTheft.gov in your professional circles and on your social networks.