Q: My stepson is a victim of identity theft. Are there any government agencies or other organizations that he might contact for help?
A: The only good thing about the identity theft epidemic â€” the Federal Trade Commission estimates 9.9 million victims in 2003 alone â€” is that plenty of resources have sprung up to help the victims.
Your stepson still has a lot of work ahead of him. He can turn to others for education and information, but he’s the one who will need to contact the credit bureaus, file a police report and take the other steps necessary to clear his name.
He can’t expect anyone else to do the work for him, and he’ll be lucky if any official investigation is conducted. Most police departments place a pretty low priority on identity crimes, and research firm Gartner has estimated that the thieves face only a 1-in-700 chance of being caught.
But your stepson can limit the damage. He can get information from the FTC by visiting its consumer website atÂ www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ or by calling (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357). Make sure he gets a copy of the FTC’s “ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.”
He also can check out theÂ IdentityÂ TheftÂ ResourceÂ Center, a nonprofit organization that recently won a National Crime Victim Service Award from the Department of Justice. Your stepson can visit its website at http://www.idtheftcenter.org or call the center at (858) 693-7935.