Across the country, attorneys general in nearly every state have made an increased effort to combat identity fraud. One way in which they are doing so is pressuring the Social Security Administration to move faster when identifying identity theft. The Attorney General of Tennessee has joined with the attorneys general of 42 other states and the District of Columbia to lobby the SSA for changes.
The Attorneys General are requesting that the SSA create a searchable database that will give financial institutions real-time ability to verify a consumer's identity. They argue this change is necessary because there is currently a lag between when a consumer reports their identity stolen and when financial institutions receive notice. This gives thieves a window to commit fraud with financial institutions entirely unable to stop identity theft until it is too late.
The call for a streamlined process for catching identity thieves comes as the frequency of identity theft rises. According to the Federal Trade Commission's 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Report, consumers reported over $900 million in fraudulent losses during 2017. The average cost to a household that was a victim of fraud was $429. While some of the fraud was generated through contact by mail, e-mail or online, the vast majority of it came from telephone scams.
Due to the anonymous nature of crimes committed online or via telephone, it's not uncommon for innocent parties to come under scrutiny in identity theft cases. It's important to remember that the police are not required to be truthful regarding their intentions, and often disguise interrogation as simply 'needing some help." It is important to speak with an attorney before talking with the police about any alleged fraud investigation.