For the millions of victims of identity theft, it can seem like there's no one on their side. The long, difficult fight to get credit and other financial concerns back on track is isolating and confusing, particularly if the victims haven't dealt with such issues before. However, as the number of identity theft cases continues to grow, more resources are becoming available to help victims cope with the aftermath.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a special section of its consumer information website, www.consumer.ftc.gov, devoted to helping consumers deal with identity theft. While the site discussion identity theft prevention, it also guides consumers through the process of dealing with identity theft once it's happened.
Because identity theft can take so many forms, the FTC provides specific information about how to respond in different situations. In the case of medical identity fraud, for instance, a checklist walks victims through all the steps to correct records, from checking state health privacy laws to sending notifications and police reports to health insurers' fraud departments.
Perhaps most important is the Statement of Rights for Identity Theft victims. Those fighting through identity fraud or theft might not be aware of all the assistance and support they are entitled to, but this document provides an exhaustive list. Because the repercussions of identity theft can extend for years, it's easy to forget what records need to be kept, what kind of help is available and the schedule of how to contact and respond to different agencies, from credit reporters to the IRS.
For victims, staying strong through the fight against identity theft can be exhausting. Having support and information is essential to ensure that life eventually gets back on track.