Ten years ago, President Bush launched a new era in the fight against identity theft by issuing an executive order establishing the Identity Theft Task Force, which the Commission co-chaired. In the ensuing ten years, great strides have been made to combat identity theft but it remains a significant problem for American consumers. Last calendar year, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 500,000 identity theft complaints and the Department of Justice reports that in 2014 17.6 million individuals – 7% of all U.S. residents age 16 and older – were victims of one or more incidents of identity theft.
On May 24, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission hosted an all-day conference to take a comprehensive look at how identity theft has evolved over the last decade and what we can do to address this challenge in the future.
The unauthorized disclosure of personal information can result in identity theft and other frauds. Data breaches, lost equipment, and insiders have made sensitive consumer information available for identity thieves to use in a variety of ways. Because consumers often reuse their usernames and passwords, identity thieves with access to this information may have access to additional consumer accounts. Identity thieves are using the information they obtain to perpetrate fraud against consumers, businesses and the government; obtain employment and medical care; and hide from law enforcement.
Identity theft can have ramifications beyond financial harm. For example, consumers may be denied access to crucial services or medical care. Identity theft can also pose a threat to public safety, particularly when used to create fraudulent identity documents that facilitate criminal activity or enable individuals to hide from law enforcement.
The conference gathered input from academics, business and industry representatives, government experts and consumer advocates. We looked at the current state of identity theft, examined potential future challenges, and discussed how to address these issues. The conference was open to the public and took place at the FTC’s Constitution Center building, 400 7th St., S.W., Washington, DC. The FTC invites comment from the public on the issues.
The event addressed questions such as:
- What types of information do identity thieves steal? How do identity thieves obtain this information? What can the private sector and government do to inhibit access to this information?
- How much of this information comes from the dark or deep web? What types of information is available? How do these markets operate? How much does it cost identity thieves to obtain this information? How have these markets changed in recent years? How will these markets change in the next few years?
- How do identity thieves use this information? How have identity theft related frauds evolved? What are some of the potential new frauds? How do we quantify the magnitude and the impact on consumers, businesses, and the government?
- What threats to public safety can result from identity theft? How will these threats evolve? What can be done to protect against these threats?
- How are identity thieves utilizing synthetic identities? What are the challenges associated with identifying synthetic identities? Are current identity monitoring tools effective in notifying individuals that a synthetic identity associated with some of their information exists?
- Are certain populations more vulnerable to identity theft? What can the private sector and the government do to protect these vulnerable populations? How do we quantify the magnitude and the impact on these vulnerable populations?
- What resources are available to help identity theft victims? What are the limitations of these resources? What additional tools are needed to protect individuals from becoming victims of identity theft, mitigating the harm caused by identity theft, and restoring individuals’ identities? What is the role of the private sector, non-profits, academia, and the government in developing these tools?
- How effective are current monitoring and restoration services? How will these services evolve?
- How can the private sector, non-profits, academia, and government work together to address all these issues?
The conference was available online via webcast. The video is available under the Video tab below.
If you have questions about the workshop, please email IdentityTheftConference@ftc.gov or contact John Krebs at (202) 326-2692.