Don Draper, The Man in the Iron Mask – and 400,000 consumers

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It’s the thread that connects Alexandre Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, the title character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Don Draper’s back story in Mad Men – and an event scheduled for May 24, 2017, at the FTC.

It’s identity theft.

Ten years ago, the White House issued an Executive Order establishing the Identity Theft Task Force, co-chaired by the FTC. As ID thieves’ tactics morph and modify, public and private partners develop new strategies to prevent the crime and offer assistance to victims. Just one example is, a site the FTC introduced last year to help people create a recovery plan, complete with personalized paperwork to speed up the process of winning back their good name.

Now is the time to take a comprehensive look at how identity theft has evolved over the last decade and consider where we go from here. That’s the topic of a May 24th workshop, Identity Theft: Planning for the Future.

The FTC has released the agenda for the day. Panelists will talk about the shadowy dark web where stolen data is fenced, the effect that ID theft has on industries like financial services and healthcare, the impact the crime has on people’s lives, and resources available for victims.

Free and open to the public, the conference will take place at the FTC’s Constitution Center building, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington, DC. Registration begins at 7:45 AM and Acting Chairman Ohlhausen will open the event at 9:15. Can’t make it to DC? We’ll post a webcast link moments before the event starts.

Why should businesses be concerned about the nearly 400,000 reports of identity theft the FTC received last year? Because the fight against ID theft is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor and businesses have three key roles to play:

  • Prevent.  Whether it’s a lost laptop, a porous computer network, or a rogue employee, business breaches can inadvertently fuel the illegal market in stolen data. One way to help shut down the supply is to put sensible protections in place to keep confidential information out of criminals’ hands. Two FTC publications – Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business and Start with Security – offer guidance. (Note to companies with just a few employees: The FTC has a new brochure, Small Business Computer Security Basics, written with you in mind.)
  • Protect.  Sometimes customers approach businesses with information that suggests the person has been a victim of identity theft. A “How sad, too bad” response won’t help their recovery. A referral to will. Also, if you provide information to consumer reporting agencies – credit bureaus, check verification services, and the like – reports from customers about identity theft may trigger responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Why? Because your business records may contain inaccurate information about the consumer because of the identity theft. By the way, we've replaced the ID Theft Affidavit with a revised FTC Identity Theft Report. It’s an official document for FCRA purposes and no police report is required.
  • Publicize.  Business groups can talk up data security and ID theft prevention to their members. There’s no need to start from scratch. The FTC has publications you can adapt for newsletters, websites, and handouts. A downloadable one-minute video from the Start with Security series would make a great addition to your next presentation. Speaking to a community group? This video explains how a few essential steps at the first inkling of ID theft can help pave the way to recovery.

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