Ramirez says that the largest and fastest-growing single type of identity theft involves tax scams, noting that the FTC has designated last week as Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. Consumers commonly learn about those scams when they go to file their taxes and are informed by the IRS that a return has already been submitted in their name, she says.
The FTC, which routinely urges companies to be mindful of consumers' data, to minimize data collection and secure the information that they do gather, says it is incorporating those approaches in its new website. Ramirez says that the site was built from the start with security in mind, and the commission will not ask users reporting an identity theft incident to provide sensitive information such as a Social Security or driver's license number.
The site does provide prefilled forms and draft letters that victims of identity theft can file with relevant law enforcement companies, credit bureaus, debt collectors and other firms they need to contact to untangle their accounts.
Eventually, the commission is hoping to achieve a direct interface with the credit bureaus to further streamline the process of reporting identity theft and minimizing the damage. As the site stands at launch, Ramirez pledges that it will dramatically simplify the response to a stolen identity by providing victims with the itemized list of the steps they need to take after an incident and sharing information with the commission's law-enforcement partners.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.