ICFE eNEWS #17-19 - May 22nd 2017
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Federal Trade Commission Blog:
"Most ID theft victims don't need a police report"

by Yan Ross, ICFE Director of Special Projects

In a blog on the FTC web site posted in late April, Seena Gressin, an attorney in the Division of Consumer and Business Education, reported this update in FTC procedure:

"When it comes to reporting and recovering from identity theft, we're simplifying the process by eliminating the need for a police report in most cases."

The thrust of the report is to advise consumers. "In most cases, you can use your Identity Theft Report in place of a police report to clear your account and credit records of transactions that resulted from the identity theft."

Specific instructions and hyperlinks are provided to assist the consumer who has experienced identity theft in reporting and resolving the incident.

However, it is by no means clear that this procedure will be accepted by other parties which may be affected, such as financial institutions, retailers, and credit card companies. The comments from the public demonstrate the experience of individuals who have attempted to resolve identity theft incidents without providing such affected parties with police report information.

Even the FTC blog observes there are circumstances in which it may be advantageous to the consumer to complete a police report:

"Still, contact the police to report identity theft if:
• you know the identity thief, or have other information that could help a police investigation
• an identity thief used your name in a traffic stop or any encounter with police, or
• a creditor, debt collector, or someone else affected by the identity theft insists that you produce a police report."

In response to numerous comments from consumers regarding their own difficult experiences in trying to resolve the identity theft without filing police reports, another representative of the FTC observed the following: "It's never harmful to get a police report, but it's not always necessary."

Where does that leave the consumer who's just learned of his or her own identity theft incident?

First, it is always advisable to file the online report with the FTC, and to follow the instructions provided on the agency web site. That way, the case will be included in the data base, as well as helping the FTC establish patterns of conduct that may be pursued to identify and take action against the identity thieves involved. By following the specific recommended steps for identity restoration, the consumer stands a good chance of minimizing the adverse effects of the identity theft incident.

Next, by applying appropriate knowledge with basic good sense, the consumer can evaluate whether a police report is necessary. Prompt notification to the other affected parties, such as financial institutions, retailers, or others involved in the identity theft incident, will also help the consumer determine whether such parties will take appropriate action with or without filing a police report.

Finally, the consumer should always monitor the completion of requested actions, such as account credit on disputed charges, correction of affected public or private personal records, and expunging erroneous information from official data bases.

It's important to note that these developments are all taking place on an ever-changing landscape, with the challenges by identity thieves and the responses by regulatory and law enforcement agencies requiring constant review and revision. Continued consumer education and informed compliance are the keys to successfully combatting this growing threat.


The ICFE's Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist ® XV CITRMS® course is now available both in printed format and online.

The Textbook and Desk Reference edition of the course book is also available online. Bulk pricing and discounts for veterans and students available. Inquire at yan.ross@icfe.info

Yan Ross is ICFE's Director of Special Projects, and the author of the Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist ® XV CITRMS® course. As an accredited educator for over 20 years, he has addressed Identity Theft Risk Assessment and management for consumers, organizations holding personally identifiable information, and professionals who work with individuals and organizations who are at risk of falling victim to identity thieves.

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Sent by:

Paul S. Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)

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