FTC website helps identity theft victims recover

Reports of ID theft up 47 percent last year

SAN ANTONIO – The Federal Trade Commission has beefed up the website IdentityTheft.gov to help victims navigate a step-by-step recovery process.

Falling victim to identity theft can turn into a tedious, time-consuming hassle trying to recover funds and restore one's good name and credit.

It is an unsettling feeling to realize someone pretended to be you and used your financial accounts.

Chip Biery was a victim of credit card fraud, a common and simple form of ID theft.

"In this case, it was old school. They swiped the credit card. It was $4,000, well over $4,000 in air fare," he said.

The thieves purchased airfare from Fiji to South Africa and from South Africa to Zimbabwe, he said.

Bonnie Ayer also discovered mystery charges on her credit card statement.

"It was gas stations in Lebanon. It was $1,200," she recalled.

In both of their cases, their credit card issuers resolved the problem with minimal trouble on their part.

However, when thieves use personal information to open new accounts and take out loans, the victim is in for a mess to clean up.

Identity theft continues to be a big problem with an estimated 17 million victims a year, according to the Justice Department.

The FTC received more than 490,000 complaints last year about identity theft, a whopping 47 percent increase. The spike is largely attributed to an increase in income tax fraud; fakes filing tax returns and stealing refunds.

Whether tax fraud, data breach, or any other form of ID theft, the website generates affidavits and forms that need to be filed. 

While it streamlines the process for victims, it's still on consumers to be vigilant.

About the Author: