Take the Report
One of the challenges identity crimes present for law enforcement is that most victims will usually report these crimes to the agency where they reside, while often the subject(s) involved in perpetrating the crime reside outside of, or the crime occurred in a jurisdiction beyond the reporting agency’s authority to conduct an investigation.
Often the perpetrators live in another jurisdiction, and are not going to be arrested by the local department. But the victims are local. And the victim’s avenue to restoring his/her life to pre-crime status begins at his/her local law enforcement agency, with the simple act of filing a police report.15 Unfortunately, the FTC reports that in 2007, 35% of identity crime victims who contacted the FTC said they had contacted law enforcement agencies, yet no police report was taken for 23% of those victims.”16 When interviewing a complaint from a victim of identity crime, an officer should know he/she is required to report the complaint as dictated by local, state and federal laws.
The fact that a victim is requested by creditors or credit bureaus to file a report with the local agency to initiate the process of restoring their good name, requires law enforcement across the country to actively reconsider past responses and attitudes toward these crimes. Today, too many law enforcement officers believe that they have no role in identity crime, or that victims should start their restoration with banks or credit companies. However, it is far more difficult for the victim who does not have a detailed report to help in the restoration process.
15The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA) added new sections to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.), intended primarily to help consumers fight the growing crime of identity theft. Providing new victim remedies, accuracy, privacy, limits on information sharing, and new consumer rights to obtain free credit reports and additional disclosure are included in FACTA. (Pub. L. 108-159, 111 Stat. 1952). The FACT Act requires victims of identity theft to have a detailed police report which the law calls an “identity theft report,” to trigger many of the new victim remedies. It helps them prove they are truly victims.
16Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft Complaint Data, January-December 2007, Federal Trade Commission, February 2008, Data from Consumer Sentinel and ID Theft Data Clearinghouse, page 14.