Washington, DC - Do you ever hear from customers or employees who want you to know that they’ve been affected by identity theft? If so, you’ll probably start seeing them use the new FTC Identity Theft Report. It tells you that someone important to your business is a crime victim, has alerted law enforcement, and is working to resolve the financial and emotional disruption that identity theft causes.
The new Identity Theft Report is a product of IdentityTheft.gov, the one-stop resource for people to report identity theft to law enforcement and get a personal recovery plan that responds to their specific identity theft circumstances. The FTC has updated the website to produce the new Report, along with customized letters for people to use to let you know they are victims and that your business records may contain fraudulent information about them.
The new Report replaces the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit that you may have seen in the past. You can easily recognize the Report — it’s marked “Federal Trade Commission” at the top, features the FTC seal, and contains a unique FTC report number for each person reporting identity theft.
If you receive an Identity Theft Report from a consumer, it means:
- The consumer has reported the identity theft to the FTC under penalty of perjury. The consumer’s signature on the Identity Theft Report indicates the consumer is serious about the identity theft that occurred, and about fighting back against it.
- The FTC has made the consumer’s Identity Theft Report available to police and other law enforcement agencies nationwide for investigation, facilitating a coordinated law enforcement response to a crime that affects millions of people each year.
- Your business records may contain inaccurate information about the consumer because of the identity theft. For example, your records may show an account the consumer did not open or authorize, or charges for goods or services the consumer did not buy. The Report and customized letters are designed to help you easily identify the accounts, charges, or other information the consumer is disputing as fraudulent.
Does your business furnish information to a consumer reporting agency (CRA) — like a credit bureau, tenant screening company, or check verification service? Then the Identity Theft Report you receive also means that you must take steps to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the federal law designed to protect the privacy of information contained in consumer reports and ensure that the information is accurate and fair.
This Notice to Furnishers of Information summarizes your obligations in responding to consumer disputes under the FCRA. State law may impose additional requirements. The FCRA’s Furnisher Rule more fully sets out furnishers’ obligations under the FCRA. Among other things, it requires companies to have written policies and procedures in place regarding the accuracy and integrity of the information they report to CRAs, to conduct reasonable investigations of consumer disputes, and report the results of the investigations to the consumers within a specified time. For a refresher, check out Consumer Reports: What Information Furnishers Need to Know.
Remember, the account at your company may be just one of many the identity theft victim must dispute. Other impacts of identity theft may include denial or loss of a job, insurance or public benefits, calls from debt collectors about fraudulent debts, or denial of mortgage applications, educational loans, or other credit. While most people will be able to clear their accounts quickly, many face months of work and hardship until they regain their good names and credit.
You can help. When a consumer sends you an Identity Theft Report, recognize your company’s obligations under the law to respond and consider how else you can assist the victim.
Please share this information with your employees and colleagues so they know how to respond to victims, and also so they can turn to IdentityTheft.gov for help if they ever need it.