Educate the Victim
Often, the victim’s first contact regarding their complaint of identity crime will be the law enforcement officer taking the report. At this stage, the victim may be confused, frustrated, uninformed or ill-prepared to report the facts of the incident. He/she will have very little in the way of supporting documentation. This initial interview is an important opportunity to help the victim to leave with some understanding of what has occurred, how it will affect him/her, what steps to take next, as well as what to do to stop and prevent identity thieves from victimizing them again.
One helpful thing at this stage will be to offer to the victim a copy of their rights guaranteed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) designed to help those who are, or believe they have been the victim of identity crime:
As in other cases dealing with victims, identity crime requires officers and investigators to develop a rapport with victims and witnesses to gain their cooperation. This is even more important when dealing with victims who are experiencing an emotional crime such as identity crime, because they often feel much like an assault victim. Comforting the victim and assuring him/her that the crime was not their fault will go a long way toward gaining their confidence and cooperation. Nevertheless, investigators should also explain the potential consequences of being a victim of identity crime such as the effect on their credit, the financial loss, the amount of time the investigation may take, and the long-term issues relating to this crime.
Investigate the Crime
The investigation of identity crimes is often a melding of traditional investigative methods with newer “high technology” ones. Investigators must know that “traditional” criminal activities are often the methods still employed by criminals to obtain personal identifying information. While police investigators may lack “high tech” knowledge, solid traditional investigative skills and methodology are still demanded to solve the case.