Saturday, January 13, 2007


One of the popular misconceptions about the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration is, that when you report identity theft crimes to them, that these agencies will actually do something with the information you provide to protect you or initiate an investigation on your behalf. The truth is that both the FTC and the SSA will do nothing with the information you provide other than perhaps file it. There are some exceptions to this general rule of inaction, but these are few and far between. Theft of social security benefits is one exception. Hijacking of your social security number and using it for other illegal purposes will not be investigated by the SSA.

We have written extensively on the Public Relations campaigns of the FTC in their mistaken attempt to assure us that they are fighting this crime wave. However their pronouncements have no real substance to support any factual base for their competency in dealing with the crime wave of identity theft. After all, what can 14 employees within the FTC actually do with over 8 million reported cases per year? Here is a copy of the letter returned to a client following a report by the client of identity theft as outlined on the FTC website.

References in this letter to sharing the data with police departments are true, however we are aware of no police department that accesses or uses this information - and we have talked with many departments over the last two years. Raw and unverified information placed into the FTC Sentinal database is of no use to the police in investigating crime.

Please note, they do provide a brochure, but at the same time say nothing about what if any action will be taken. From long and hard learned lessons we are confident that they will only file the report and do nothing.

June 21, 2006

Thank you for contacting us about identity theft. The information you have requested is enclosed. We hope it provides information that will be useful to you. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns about identity theft.

You can always reach us in three ways:
1) you can call us toll-free at 1-877-ID THEFT (1-877-438-4338);
2) you can visit our website at; or
3) you can write to us at:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580

For consumer problems not related to identity theft, please call the FTC's Consumer Response Center toll-free at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or visit the FTC's website at

We appreciate any comments or suggestions you may have. Please mail any feedback to us at the above address. The efficacy of our identity theft tracking and referral program is dependent upon information we receive from people like you. Thank you for contacting us. How We Use Your Information

We use personally-identifying information gathered from consumers in various ways to further our consumer protection and competition activities. We collect this information under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission Act and other laws we enforce or administer. We enter the information you provide into our database to make it available to our attorneys and investigators involved in law enforcement. We also may share it with a wide variety of other government agencies enforcing consumer protection, competition, and other laws.

If you contact us because you have been the victim of Identity Theft, we also may share some information you provide with certain private entities, such as credit bureaus and any companies you may have complained about, if we believe that doing so might help resolve identify theft-related problems.

In addition, when you submit a complaint, you may be contacted by the FTC or any of the agencies or private entities to whom your complaint has been referred.

In other limited circumstances, including requests from Congress, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from private individuals, or in accordance with our public record rules, we may be required by law to disclose the information you submit.

The information you provide is up to you. If you don't provide your name or contact information, it may be impossible for us to refer, respond to, or investigate your complaint or request.


Identity Theft Clearinghouse Enclosures:1. Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft (CRE-02)


At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is quite strange to find you attacking the FTC and SSA. You are experts in this area so you should know that the FTC doesn't investigate ID theft crimes because they don't have the authority or funding by Congress to do so. They can't just decide one day to turn themselves into a law enforcement agency. Congress has made it clear who has jurisdiction at the federal level and those agencies include the FBI and Secret Service--NOT the FTC.

I guess you are trying to create a controversy and rally people to your side. But no controversy exists. The FTC does what it is mandated to do by Congress and nothing more. They leave law enforcement to do their job. We don't need another law enforcement agency to investigate ID theft. It would create another layer of beaurocracy and expense. Same goes for the SSA. The SSA has NO authority to investigate identity theft crimes, unless it is specifically to do with benefits.

Pretty embarrasing blog post. Maybe someone should be vetting these before they get posted.

I hope you have the courage to approve this comment.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger KnightsBridge Castle said...

Dear Reader:

Our discussion of the FTC and SSA is not to create controversy. It is to make it absolutely clear to victims, that these agencies, despite their public pronouncements, will do absolutely nothing to assist them in combating this crime.

At KnightsBridge Castle, our concern with the FTC and the SSA is that they consistently hold out the idea to victims of this crime, that their agencies will actually do something to protect victims. When victims learn that these two groups do very little, they often become angry and disappointed. We are left having to explain, as you have so well pointed our, that they can do nothing.

Perhaps our wording was a bit strong, however, if your read the public pronouncements of both agencies and their self-congratulatory press releases on how they are fighting this crime, and compare that to what we actually see in the trenches, you would probably also be concerned. For example, the SSA comment by the Inspector General that they had investigated “hundreds” of identity theft incidents in the last two years means that only an insignificant number of complaints filed with the SSA were ever investigated. The same is true of the FTC. We see FTC personnel at conferences all the time proclaiming their successes in fighting this crime. Yet from our perspective they do nothing but attend conferences and write press releases.


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