Identity Theft

Identity theft often tops the list of consumer complaints that are reported to the FTC and other enforcement agencies. Identity theft can be perpetrated using such low-tech methods as purse snatching or “dumpster diving,” or high-tech techniques like deceptive “phishing” e-mails or malicious software known as “spyware.” Identity theft is a crime. While the FTC does not have criminal jurisdiction, it supports the criminal investigation and prosecution of identity theft by serving as a clearinghouse for identity theft complaints, part of the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel complaint database. In addition to housing ID theft complaints, Sentinel offers participating law enforcement agencies a variety of tools to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of identity theft. These include information to help agencies coordinate effective joint action; sample indictments; and tools to refresh investigative data through programmed data searches.