The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced updates to the IdentityTheft.gov website aimed at making the site more useful to victims of identity theft. The changes will enable consumers to quickly file complaints and develop a personalized recovery plan after answering a number of questions on the site.
“Our hope is that this is going to make it much easier for consumers to start on their road to recovery,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said during a news conference revealing the changes. “Having one easy set of steps to understand what [the recovery process] entails and getting a plan that is tailored to their own specific situation can be very helpful and really shorten the time it takes to recover from identity theft.”
At the news conference, the FTC also stated that it had received over 490,000 consumer complaints about identity theft in 2015, representing a 47 percent increase over the prior year. The Department of Justice estimates that 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014. Ramirez said she anticipates that the site upgrades will “absolutely” provide a boost to the ability of the commission as well as the more than 2,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officials who have access to the commission’s consumer complaint database to investigate incidents.
“The more information that we have in this database, the better equipped we will be to tackle these issues,” Ramirez said. “Data security is one of our top priorities, and a lot of the work that we do in that area helps to stem the tide of identity thieves. So every complaint we receive helps us in our enforcement efforts, and also helps our law enforcement partners around the country.”
President Obama issued an executive order in October of 2014 directing federal agencies to create a consolidated site with essential information on identity theft remediation for consumers, to which the FTC responded with IdentityTheft.gov. An initial version was launched in May 2015 with checklists for consumers based on certain types of identity theft.