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ID Theft Tips for Working with Local Law Enforcement
Jackie here, with AllClear ID. If your car gets stolen you call up your local police department. If your identity is stolen, it is a lot more complicated. Reporting and resolving id theft can be a multi-step process that involves talking with a variety of different law enforcement agencies and personnel. Knowing how to work to effectively utilize law enforcement will make coping with id theft easier and less frustrating.
ID theft is particularly difficult for law enforcement. It is a crime with multiple components: financial fraud with banks and financial institutions as the victim and id theft. The crime is often perpetrated from a distance over internet and phone lines making the crime a jurisdictional nightmare. Many police departments lack the budget and the workforce to successfully chase id thieves and delve into deep investigations. As a victim, it can be frustrating to feel that your case isn’t an active concern for your local police department.
How Can an ID Theft Victim Support Law Enforcement?
One of the best ways to support law enforcement is to understand what they can and cannot do. You will need to contact your local law enforcement agency and report your id theft. A police report is a valuable tool that you can use to resolve fraudulent debts and to clean up your credit report after id theft.
It can be difficult to explain the facts of your case in a clear and concise manner when you are emotionally upset, and rightly so, from discovering that you are a victim of id theft. Local law enforcement officers are busy and do not have time to spend hours talking about your case. You will be more effective in dealing with them if you provide the relevant information and then let them get back to work, hopefully on investigating your id theft case.
First Step: Fill Out an ID Theft Affidavit and Get a Police Report
You will need a police report to fight fraudulent debts and clean up your credit report. The FTC has created some great ID Theft Tools for Victims that can help you prepare for working with your local law enforcement. Their ID Theft Affidavit can be completed before you meet with law enforcement and will provide your local police with the information they need to file a report and start working on your case.
Next: Gather and Collect Relevant Information
If you don’t provide your local law enforcement with the right type of information, they may assume that there isn’t enough evidence in your case to investigate, even if there is. Collecting the right type of information and providing it to your local law enforcement in an easy to read and understandable manner will help investigators to build your case. This fact sheet from the Identity Theft Resource Center will help you to work more effectively with law enforcement. Their suggestions for working with law enforcement include:
- Contacting your investigator no more than once a week during the active investigation.
- Don’t take your frustration out on law enforcement and don’t use them as a therapist.
- Ask what you can do to help. Often the id theft victim is one of the best investigators around since they know the case inside and out and have access to accounts, records and information that may be difficult for law enforcement to secure.
Finally: Be Patient
ID theft investigations are complicated and many run out of evidence before an arrest is ever made. Working with law enforcement will be important to resolving your case, but you can’t expect them to do everything. Law enforcement agencies just don’t have the resources to investigate and resolve every id theft case on their own. Be patient and understanding and help investigators when you can.
In addition to reporting your id theft to your local authorities you should also file an id theft complaint with the FTC. Your complaint can provide valuable information that may help to find and prosecute id theft perpetrators. The FTC cannot resolve your individual complaint, but your information will still be a valuable resource in their large-scale investigations.
Many victims of id theft are frustrated that law enforcement does not do more. Understanding their limitations and your role in resolving and investigating id theft cases may make it easier to recover from this crime should it ever happen to you. Remember it is always easier to prevent id theft than to recover from it