FTC Spotlights Identity Theft

SAN MATEO (08/17/2000) - Responding to growing consumer fear over "identity theft," the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it will establish a central clearinghouse for complaints and rally industry on ways to assist victims.

The FTC claims it is out to raise the visibility of identity theft and to help consumers through the nightmare of undoing the damage done when an individual's identity is snatched and abused, online or otherwise.

Some business groups and industry watchers claim citizens often confuse the issue of identity theft with online privacy issues.

The FTC is out to educate consumers on what identity theft is: the unlawful use of another's social security number or other personal information to commit fraud.

The agency will hold an October workshop on victim assistance, in addition to providing an online complaint form at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

The FTC is also looking for ways to help victims clear up the tangle involving credit histories and other red tape without "unnecessarily burdening business," the agency said in a notice.

Educational information for consumers is contained in an FTC document titled Identity Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name, available at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idtheft.htm.

Jennifer Jones is an InfoWorld senior editor.

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