Forum Will Host Government, Industry and Consumer Groups
On October 23 and 24, 2000, the Federal Trade Commission will host a two-day workshop on ways to expand and improve the assistance provided by both the public and private sectors to victims of identity theft. The workshop is the first in a series following the National Summit on Identity Theft held last March in conjunction with the U. S. Department of Treasury. The FTC is seeking written comments and requests to participate as a panelist in the workshop by September 15, 2000.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 directed the FTC to implement a program to educate consumers and businesses about the crime of identity theft and assist identity theft victims. In response to the Act, the Commission has established a toll free number for identity theft calls (1-877- ID THEFT), an online complaint form at www.ftc.gov/idtheft, and a centralized clearinghouse of identity theft complaints that is accessible to law enforcement officers throughout the country. The Commission has also published and distributed more than 100,000 copies of a consumer education booklet, Identity Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.
The planned workshop will focus on additional ways to assist victims of identity theft. "Consumer-victims of identity theft currently face multiple hurdles in preventing further misuse of their identifying information and in correcting damage done to their credit histories, reputations and lives by identity thieves," a Federal Register Notice, published today says. "These consumers often spend many hours over the course of months calling and writing to creditors, credit bureaus, debt collectors and others in an attempt to undo the damage caused by identity theft. Their struggle is made all the more difficult by differing and cumbersome dispute processes used by multiple creditors, credit bureaus and law enforcement agencies. . . The workshop seeks to foster an open discussion of how industry, law enforcement, and government can work cooperatively to provide streamlined and coordinated assistance to consumer-victims of identity theft without unnecessarily burdening business. The workshop aims to explore consumer-victim assistance by creditors, consumer reporting agencies, debt collectors and federal, state and local government agencies."
Adoption of a single form affidavit that could be used to inform multiple creditors that a consumer has been the victim of identity theft, and a single call to alert all three credit bureaus are two suggestions to streamline the process for consumers that were advanced at the National Identity Theft Summit in March. The workshop will explore these initiatives, as well as additional alternative methods of assisting consumer-victims of identity theft.
The workshop will explore how consumer reporting agencies, credit bureaus, banks, credit card issuers, telephone carriers, e-merchants, law enforcement agencies and others can work together to streamline and coordinate assistance to victims. The workshop also will explore remedies to such experiences as fraudulent arrest records due to identity theft, fraudulent bankruptcy filings and denial of employment, insurance or mortgages.
The Federal Register Notice says the FTC is seeking public comments to inform the discussion that will take place at the workshop. Comments and requests to participate must be filed by September 15, 2000. They should be sent to Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
Copies of the Federal Register Notice and "Take Charge: Fighting Back AGainst IDTheft," a consumer brochure about combating identity theft and what steps to take if you are a victim are available on the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft Consumers can speak to a consumer counselor about ID theft by calling the FTC's toll free Identity Theft Hotline at 877-IDTHEFT. To obtain printed copies of Identity Theft materials, consumers can write to the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
Claudia Bourne Farrel,
Office of Public Affairs
Joanna Crane and Helen Goff Foster,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3258 or 202-326-2343