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Fact Sheet: the Work of the President’s
Identity Theft Task Force

Identity theft is a crime that victimizes people and businesses in every community from major cities to small towns, and robs victims of their individual freedoms. The President’s Identity Theft Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, has been working diligently since its inception in May 2006 to develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat identity theft. Beginning with today’s interim recommendations, the Identity Theft Task Force will improve the ability of the government and the private sector to bring identity thieves to justice, to mitigate the risks of identity theft for individuals and companies, and to assist identity-theft victims in recovering from the effects of this pernicious crime.

Bringing Identity Thieves to Justice

The 17 federal agencies and departments that comprise the Task Force each has a particular expertise in substantive areas that impact and can contribute to the federal government’s response to the problem of identity theft. Of these, the FBI, the United States Secret Service (USSS), the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSA OIG) are all empowered to investigate identity theft, and the Department of Justice brings substantial numbers of prosecutions against identity thieves. The results of these efforts include:

Some recent examples of identity theft prosecutions by the Department of Justice include the following:

FEMA fraud. On September 5, 2006, a defendant was sentenced to more than 10 years imprisonment for running a scheme to defraud the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), by using false identities to support his claims that he was a victim of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The defendant’s scheme involved telephoning the FEMA emergency assistance hotline, providing a false name and address, and claiming to have suffered property damage as a result of the hurricanes.

Working Across Agencies to Disrupt Identity Theft

Federal authorities lead or co-lead a total of 96 task forces and working groups devoted to identity theft. These include:

Providing Essential Resources

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) at the Justice Department provides funding and training for victim service programs and victim service providers at the federal, state, local and tribal levels; funding for law enforcement’s, prosecutors’ and crime prevention experts’ efforts to address identity theft; research and program evaluation concerning identity theft through the National Institute of Justice; and data collection for policymakers on identity theft.

Anyone wishing to ask a question about identity theft or to report identity theft may call 1-877-ID-THEFT, or visit Other resources are available on the Office for Victims of Crime identity-theft resource Web page at, and on the Department’s identity-theft Web site at

Improving the Federal Government’s Ability to Fight Identity Theft Now

The Task Force will present its final strategic plan to the President in November. In advance of that plan, the Task Force announced today interim recommendations to be implemented immediately to assist in the federal government’s efforts to combat identity theft. These include the formulation of a step-by-step guidance to federal agencies on the actions they should take should they suffer a data breach; the development of a uniform police report that can be used by identity theft victims; an amendment to the criminal restitution statutes that would allow identity theft victims to recover for the value of the time that they spend attempting to make themselves whole; and several “good government” measures that can be taken to reduce the amount of paper currently in circulation that contain Social Security Numbers, which can be an identity thief’s most valuable piece of consumer information.