For Law Enforcement
Effective communication between law enforcement and the victim is essential. It is often the missing piece that can make a victims’ experience through the criminal justice system much easier and the officers work much more efficient.
Recognize the assistance you give to identity theft victims may differ from how you have communicated with and assisted other victims. Due to the nature of this type of crime, many cases go uninvestigated or unsolved and victims often do not realize what is necessary to bring an offender to justice.
Educate your agency about the crime of identity theft, the different types of identity theft, current statistics and the challenges that victims often face so that your agency can be prepared when working with victims of identity theft.
Helpful information to assist you in your work obligation and communicating with victims
- Effectively Communicating with Victims of ID Theft and Fraud
- Available Trainings and Materials
For assistance with making identity theft network connections, joining a coalition, training, presentation material, additional information or victim support, please contact us.
Most states have laws requiring law enforcement agencies to take a police report of identity theft and provide a copy of that report to the victim. To become familiar with the laws regarding identity theft in your state, contact your State Attorney General’s Office.
The Federal Trade Commission’s ID theft database statistics can be found at www.ftc.gov/sentinel . Your agency might want to become a member of the Sentinel program which helps law enforcement to identify crime trends and patterns.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police has a website called ID Safety designed to help consumers and law enforcement combat identity crimes. On the site you will find information tailored for law enforcement including: Identity Crime: An Overview, Prevention, Victim Assistance, Investigation and Resource Sharing.
When a victim contacts law enforcement, your agenda as an investigator may be different than the victim’s. Law enforcement agencies who are successful realize that by developing a relationship with a victim, he or she becomes an asset to the investigation. The key is communication and listening to a victim’s concerns while gathering information for the case.
- Outline the purpose for the meeting or call: You are here to gather the details of the case, any documents they may have, and to answer any questions they may have about clearing their name or about law enforcement’s handling of an identity theft case.
- Go through your intake form; get all the information you need.
- In cases of criminal ID theft, help the victim to secure the necessary paperwork to get a Letter of Clearance. See ITRC Fact Sheet 110 on criminal identity theft.
- Tell victims what it is like “behind the scenes of a fraud investigation and the facts — that the case will take time, and why.
Information a victim might want to know includes:
What are the steps law enforcement must follow to prove this case?
How is evidence gathered, stored and presented to the court? Victims need to know that papers they submit may not be considered legal evidence and why.
What are your procedures from this point forward? What are law enforcement’s priorities on the case?
How many cases are you handling right now? This gives victims an idea of how much time you can dedicate to their case.
How long can investigations take?
Will you remain the primary investigator on the case? A victim wants to know who to contact.
What should victims do if they get more information that may help or get another collection notice? Should they call you, email, or mail a copy of the information?
How soon will it be until they can get a hard copy of the police report? What are the procedures for getting a report?
What can victims be doing now? Is there something they can do to move things along faster? Is there any action they might take that would harm the case?
What are the chances of getting the criminal? If you don’t think this case can be solved, tell the victim so and help him/her reset priorities — clearing his/her name and credit history.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, prior to leaving or completing the intake, ask if the victim has any questions.
Identity Theft Resource Center – The ITRC’s web site is dedicated exclusively to ID theft. It is an award-winning website that attracts more than one million visitors yearly and has victim-focused fact sheets that cover many identity theft situations.
Deter, Detect, Defend from the Federal Trade Commission: On this web site, consumers can learn how to avoid identity theft – and learn what to do if their identity is stolen. Businesses can learn how to help their customers deal with identity theft, as well as how to prevent problems in the first place. Law enforcement can get resources and learn how to help victims of identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission also operates an Identity Theft Clearinghouse. Its phone assistance line is (877) IDTHEFT (Spanish-speaking counselors available).
ID Safety a website from The International Association of Chiefs of Police designed to help consumers and law enforcement combat identity crimes. On the site consumers will find information including: What Is Identity Crime? How Can I Protect Myself? Am I a victim? I am a victim. What next?
The Get Help sections of our website will assist victims with existing account fraud, new account fraud, criminal identity theft, medical identity theft, business identity theft, employment identity theft, theft of a Senior’s identity, theft of a child’s identity and Domestic Violence victims and identity theft.
Phone numbers and web sites of credit reporting agencies:
|P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
|P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
|P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
- Statement of Rights for Identity Theft Victims
- Taking Charge: What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen
- Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims
- ID Theft Presentation