The seventh annual National Consumer Protection Week, launched by the Federal Trade Commission, kicks off this week. This year’s theme “Identity Theft: When Fact Becomes Fiction,” focuses on minimizing identity theft risk and taking fast action if an identity thief strikes.

 

Identity theft affects approximately 10 million Americans each year, the agency estimates. 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.

 

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.

 

The NCPW Web site contains information 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.

 

Organizations interested in promoting NCPW can visit the Web site for downloadable materials.

 

NCPW is sponsored by the FTC, the Federal Citizen Information Center, the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 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.

 

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Send news tips or a letter to the editor to opinion@inman.com.

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