The Federal Trade Commission has launched the seventh annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), February 6-12, 2005, in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies, and national advocacy organizations committed to consumer protection and education. This year’s theme, “Identity Theft: When Fact Becomes Fiction,” focuses on minimizing the risk of identity theft and taking fast action if an identity thief strikes. Identity theft affects approximately 10 million Americans each year. During the week, agencies participating in NCPW will work together to help consumers and businesses prevent identity theft and help victims restore their good names.
The NCPW Web site, www.consumer.gov/ncpw, contains helpful information for consumers and businesses on a variety of topics, including “phishing” scams, telecommunications fraud, Internet fraud, and the theft of printed documents with personal information, as well as protecting employees from identity theft in the workplace. The site also contains valuable consumer information on the steps to take if you become a victim.
“We’re committed to working with our partners to give consumers the information they need to fight identity theft and other consumer fraud,” said Lydia Parnes, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “National Consumer Protection Week is a great opportunity for organizations across the country to teach consumers about their rights.”
Organizations interested in promoting NCPW can click on the “Outreach Toolkit,” which contains downloadable materials – a poster, flyer, sample press materials, public service announcements, Web-ready logos, banner ads, and buttons.
Identity thieves open new accounts in other peoples’ names and rack up debts on existing accounts, using consumers’ Social Security numbers, bank account information, addresses, or phone numbers. Identity theft victims may spend years – and large sums of money – restoring their credit histories and their good names. Some consumers have been denied jobs or insurance or been arrested for crimes they did not commit. A recent survey indicates that the dollar volume of the crime was $52.6 billion in 2004 – much of that cost is accrued by businesses.
NCPW is sponsored by the FTC, the Federal Citizen Information Center, the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, the National Consumers League, AARP, the Better Business Bureau, Call for Action, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Attorneys General, National Association of Consumer Affairs Administrators, the California Office of Privacy Protection, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Identity Theft Resource Center, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.