Addressing ID Theft Cases With Large Numbers of Victims
Debbie Deem, Theresa Ronnebaum  -  2013/7/24
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
We serve a small community and I'm not sure our police department handles ID theft issues. Is it standard to go to the local PD or should we direct victims to the FBI or other agency?
 
1.  Tom Lenzo
 Here in Pasadena, I am one of five volunteers who have attended a 12 week Citizens Academy and have been trained by a financial crimes detective to investigate identity theft cases and assist the victims. We also speak at local events on how to prevent identity theft.
 
2.  Shelley C.
 Visit www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com and file a complaint online. The complaint is entered into the Federal Trade Commission's database where most federal and state police agencies have access to search for victims when they open a criminal case.
 
3.  Debbie Deem
 I concur with Theresa. In most cases, it will be a local police jurisdiction matter. The police may also confer with federal investigative agencies such as Secret Service or the FBI if they believe there is a federal case. However if there are many victims, or involves interstate aspects, you may also wish to file a report with Secret Service or the FBI. In addition, if its a cyber matter, victims should report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
 
4.  Theresa R.
 Yes, typically a victim would contact a local police department either where the crime took place or in the jurisdiction where the victim resides.
 
 
aret there different steps or actions that should be taken with victims of large scams as compared to a single victim?
 
1.  Theresa R.
 In regards to the advocacy with a case involving a large number of victims, the ability to reach out to other agencies for assistance is so important. For example, some cases involving a scam may be both criminal and civil in nature. It is important to guide the victim to the appropriate resources.
 
2.  Debbie Deem
 Large case notifications and assistance will require much more extensive planning and preparation for the delivery of services. Even getting identified victim names and contact information may be time consuming and difficult. Victims may not even know they were victimized,and call frantically or thankful that an explanation for their difficulties has a known cause, and that help is available. Taking calls from frantic victims once they receive a notice- takes additional time and resources, particularly if victims are in multiple states (or countries). They may even question if your notification is real. There may be many types of impact that one must be prepared to assist with- in large victim cases.
 
 
is there a resource available that lists scams, cases or fraud alerts so that people are aware of potential threats. Also, what is the best way to notify people of id theft issues in their area
 
1.  AAG Van Hise
 I might add as well that many state Attorneys General Offices handle various aspects pertaining to scams & fraud within their Consumer Fraud/Consumer Protection Divisions. As in the case of Illinois, there is an Identity Theft Hotline/Consumer Fraud Hotline aimed at assiting victims with id theft issues, consumer scams, data breach incidents, etc. These resources not only offer assistance to consumers, but also other law enforcement agencies in providing resources and guidance specific to these topics.
 
2.  Debbie Deem
 Hi William, There are many additional resources such as the Federal Trade Commission, (ftc.gov)or their site at www.onguardonline.gov, or the National Cyber Security Alliance at Staysafeonline.org. State or county Dept Consumer Affairs, State Attorney General and local police department web sites are also good places to learn about recent scams. Often you can also describe the 'scam', and enter it in a search engine for more information. The US State Dept also has a section for victims of international frauds, as do many US Embassies for a particular country. Hope that helps.
 
3.  Theresa R.
 Yes, there are many resources that are current. For example, cyber related scams can be located at www.ic3.gov( Internet Crime Complaint Center). Data breaches: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org) The IRS, Postal Inspector and the FBI also release current fraud scam information.
 
 
Can you describe the ideal, victim centered best case scenario (what steps are followed, the approach, who is involved, etc) in a case involving hundreds of victims? What is on your wish list for how an assistance community should best respond in these cases?
 
1.  Theresa R.
 Many cases with large numbers of victims can often times involve multiple states. It would be ideal for the victim advocate to coordinate services with other agencies in the state where the victim resides. Assistance or local resources can be found through coalitions, State Attorney General Offices, ID Theft Passport States etc. Online help and coalitions can be located at: identitytheftnetwork.org
 
2.  Debbie Deem
 Using the FTC's bulk order site at https://bulkorder.ftc.gov/, information can be mailed to victims in mass victim cases to assist. Phone lines and websites can be dedicated or have information that can be updated with the continuing case status. Email contact information that is current will the easiest way to make victim contact for most notifications (and cheapest).However, some victims are not on email, so letter notifications (or phone) need to remain an option. Often, collaborative agencies can be contacted in advance to prepare for victim needs in a particular area.
 
3.  Debbie Deem
 Also victims are entitled to certain rights and access to services under federal or state law. There may be notification requirements so that victims are able to learn that their case is under investigation, charges have been filed, or the various court events occurring. Even the earliest notification can be a great crime prevention/intervention resource, but will require advance planning. There should be as much information as possible for the victim to understand the source (if known) of the identity theft, and resources available to assist, as well as a contact person if questions or concerns.
 
4.  Theresa R.
 The perfect scenario would be to provide ongoing victim assistance throughout the criminal justice process. Collaborative efforts among local, state and federal agencies. Resources that would provide assistance to the hundreds of victims. For example, Legal Aid Services, Department of Elder Affairs, and various online resources such as the online pro bono guide at www.idtheft.gov/probono...
 
 
What are some of the most common large-victim identity theft scams and do you have any tips for recognizing/avoiding this type of fruad
 
1.  Theresa R.
 Many scams are difficult to recognize as a fraud. For example, Tax scams, Phishing Scams (text or email), and Vishing Scams(voice message) are very common. Educating consumers on "what to look for" is so important. TIPS to avoid scams can be found at: www.OnGuardOnline.gov. Email phishing can be reported to: www.spam@uce.
 
2.  Debbie Deem
 Credit card fraud and government benefit fraud, mostly involving tax identity theft are two of the largest types of cases being reported to the FTC. Databreach cases are also a common type of large scale case, often involving credit cards or personal identifying information such as social security numbers, passwords,etc.
 
 
Do you have any recommendations on how to handle cases where large numbers of social security numbers are comprised?
 
1.  Theresa R.
 It is imperative that all the victims report the crime to the IRS. 800-908-4490. The victim will need to complete form 14039. The FTC should also be contacted at 877-ID-THEFT (438-4338), www.ftc.gov
 
2.  Debbie Deem
 Having had some of these, they can be challenging. First, if its a localized theft, try to work with the local social security office so they are aware of these potential victims and can develop procedures to expedite help. Again, providing handouts with notifications that include websites for dealing with this type of crime, will allow most to be able to follow through. Victim notification letters or additional 'creditor intervention' letters may be a helpful tool to verify their status as a victim of a criminal case. Some states and nonprofits have very good information on dealing with data breach cases involving the theft of social security numbers.
 
3.  Debbie Deem
 In large scale cases, if you have sent information and resources on 'self help' and using the collaborative resources Theresa provided, most victims can take the needed steps to protect their identity from further harm. It is those victims who may not have those skills that can then be your focus.
 
 
With the use of social media, have you noticed an increase in the number of id theft cases directly related to personal information posted on these sites?
 
1.  Theresa R.
 Prevention and education is key! Community outreach on social media and id theft is very important as technology evolves. Presentations to schools, Senior Centers, not for profit agencies, libraries, businesses etc. can be very helpful to people of all ages.
 
2.  Theresa R.
 I have assisted with social media id theft complaints. (This has also included photographs being taken from social media profiles). It would depend on the state and/or federal laws to determine if it is actually a criminal case of id theft.
 
3.  Debbie Deem
 Since the use of social media is still relatively new, we would expect this to only increase. One of the major problems is that victims may not know that social media is behind their personal information being accessed when they post.
 
 
Postal Inspectors investigate identity theft with a mail nexus. Can reports be generated from IC3, FTC or other agencies for identity theft with a mail nexus? Our 800 number is 877-876-2455 and website is https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov
 
1.  Theresa R.
 For more information about the FTC's Consumer Sentinel's System Requirements, go to: register.consumersentinel.gov or call 877-701-9595.
 
2.  Debbie Deem
 It is my understanding that IC3.gov works with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies through their analysts who basically put leads together based on where a defendant or victims reside. The FTC has Consumer Sentinel which is a free database that any law enforcement (federal or local) can access to review complaints for possible investigation. USPIS is a wonderful resource for any mail related identity theft or fraud crime.
 
 
In dealing with victims of a mass market schemes, what information should we tell victims to gather or bring when filing a police report?
 
1.  Debbie Deem
 Briefly, in addition to the local police, these should be reported to IC3.gov or the FTC. In addition, there may be reason to report to a federal investigative agency. I would have contact information, copies of checks, wire transfer or GreenDot records available.
 
 
How are the criminals found and prosecuted if they are overseas? And how is it handled when it is a business committing the fraud? As an advocate who works with victims what can we tell them to reassure them when the perpetrators aren't caught?
 
1.  Debbie Deem
 This is hopefully a topic for a future session. Federal law enforcement can't make arrests overseas, but do work with local law enforcement in many countries, especially through our Embassies. In particular, Jamaica and Canada have very cooperative efforts in fighting lottery fraud. The best way to get the attention needed on these cases, and have any chance of victim recovery would be to file a report with the FTC or IC3.gov. They are both national databases that law enforcement can access, including information on foreign scams. Filing a report of fraud with Western Union or Money Gram, as well as their local police and bank is also very important. And if they are a senior or disabled adult being financially exploited, file an Adult Protective Services report.
 
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