Reporting Identity Theft: The Role of FTC and Law Enforcement
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Identity theft victims face serious financial and emotional challenges. Your reputation can also be compromised, especially if the identity thief uses your personal information to commit crimes.
Many forms of cyber attacks could happen to you and compromise the safety of your personal information. According to Crime Museum, over 9 million Americans experience having their identity stolen. Identity theft statistics also showed about 397,000 government or benefits fraud complaints in 2021.
In most cases, victims of identity theft turn to the police for help. However, the question remains: do police investigate identity theft?
Read on to explore the role of law enforcement in investigating identity theft and the steps that victims can take to report the crime and protect themselves from further harm.
Do Police Investigate Identity Theft?
Federal Identity Theft is covered by US Code 18 U.S.C. § 1028. This law considers misusing someone’s information for financial or personal gain a crime.
This law dictates the penalties a person should face if they use someone else’s personal information with the intent to defraud.
Federal law enforcement agencies typically do not intervene in minor or small-scale identity theft involving insignificant financial losses. They focus on investigating intricate and complex schemes where a substantial amount of money has been stolen through identity theft.
Knowing when to file a police report for identity theft can be challenging. However, certain circumstances may warrant filing a report with law enforcement.
You may be able to file a police report if:
- You’re aware a person stole your identity. The police can investigate someone close to you if you suspect they accessed your information before the suspicious activity on your credit reports or accounts.
- You have information that could help with an investigation. The police can also get involved if you have any leads pointing to a particular suspect.
- Your identity was used during a police interaction or crime. Filing a police report can help you protect yourself if the thief uses your identity for criminal offenses.
- Your financial institution requires a police report. Your financial institution may ask for a police report to resolve any disputes on your account.
It’s important to note that filing a police report doesn’t always guarantee an investigation. Due to the complex jurisdictional issues surrounding identity theft, it may be challenging for local law enforcement to pursue the culprit.
Therefore, providing as much information as possible is crucial to help the authorities identify and charge the offender.
How To Report Identity Theft
Taking immediate action is important if you suspect someone has stolen your personal information.
You can help protect your identity and recover damages by filing an identity theft report with your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The following are the steps you can take to report your case to the FTC and your local police department:
Reporting to FTC
Reporting accurate information when filing an identity theft report is crucial. The FTC provides a customized recovery plan and an identity theft affidavit for review and update.
Follow these steps to file a report with the FTC:
Step #1: Visit the FTC’s Identity Theft Portal
You can log in to FTC’s Identity Theft website to report the incident. After providing the details, you will receive a personalized plan to help you recover from the theft.
Step #2: Complete the FTC Identity Theft Report
You will then submit an affidavit as a formal report to the FTC. Once you’ve provided the details required, you can print your affidavit. The police may ask for it later as part of their reporting process.
Step #3: Access a Recovery Plan
The FTC will formulate a customized recovery plan based on your provided information. This plan will include all the details and the steps you need to take to restore your credit and reputation.
Step #4: Call the FTC to File a Report
You also have the option to submit an identity theft report to the FTC online or by contacting the Consumer Response Center at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Reporting to Law Enforcement
To report your identity theft case to the police, you can follow these steps:
Step #1: Secure a Copy of Your FTC Identity Theft Report
Your FTC report will help you prove that you are trying to recover your stolen identity.
Step #2: Verify your Identity
You can submit a photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license.
Step #3: Verify Your Address
Provide your address and validate it by submitting a mortgage statement or utility bill.
Step #4: Submit proof of identity theft.
Gather any credit card statements, collection notices, IRS notices, or other correspondence that demonstrates the occurrence of identity theft and serves as proof of the incident.
Once you have filed a police report, an officer will initiate an investigation based on the details you have provided to try and apprehend the perpetrator.
This process can become longer due to the intricate jurisdictional issues and lower priority often assigned to identity theft cases.
The Role of Law Enforcement in Investigating Identity Theft
Investigating identity theft is crucial in bringing the perpetrators to justice and protecting the victims. The role of law enforcement in investigating ID theft includes:
- Accepting the complaint
- Preparing a police report
- Providing a copy to the complainant
- Coordinating with other agencies if needed
It should be noted that other agencies may become involved if the crime occurred in multiple jurisdictions or if requested for assistance. The investigation process will depend on the unique circumstances of the case.
If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, it is important to report it to the appropriate authorities immediately.
While victims of identity theft often turn to the police for help, not all forms of identity theft fall within the jurisdiction of local law enforcement agencies, and the police can handle only particular cases.
It is important to know when to file a police report for identity theft and to provide as much information as possible to help the authorities identify and charge the offender.
Victims should also take immediate action and file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and their local police department to protect their identity and recover any damages.
Recovering from identity theft is a long and difficult process that can take considerable time and often requires continuous effort.
Despite the challenges of investigating identity theft, law enforcement plays a crucial role in bringing the perpetrators to justice and protecting the victims.