The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) periodically selects a policy area on which to focus its outreach effort.  When they do, they invite the public to provide views which can then be used in formulating their policy initiatives, enforcement agenda and consumer education for that topic.  I want to share just such an opportunity with you since the FTC’s identified an issue that is tragically becoming more common.  It’s also, sadly, an issue about you might have personal experience —experience that could help the FTC as it explores the issue.

The FTC will be focusing on seniors’ identity theft.  Seniors are victimized by thieves who steal their personal information and then use it to commit other crimes.  Their identities can be stolen through various online schemes (e.g, phishing) or, even more deplorably, when they’re at their most vulnerable (e.g., in nursing homes or through power of attorney abuses).

The FTC has invited public comment on 6 different aspects of this problem including:

  • Prevalence of identity theft from seniors;
  • Vulnerability of seniors to certain types of scams and frauds (e.g., phishing, tax, medicare and nursing-home related identity theft);
  • Extent to which seniors are victims of familial identity theft; and
  • Private and public sector solutions that have helped fight this problem.

Comments are due by July 15th and can be provided either online or in paper. Submissions will be part of the public record so don’t include any sensitive personal information about yourself or people about whom you might write (e.g., no SSNs, no dates of births, no medical or financial information).

More information about submitting comments can be found at the FTC’s website at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2012/04/120426idtheftannouncement.pdf.

No one should be the victim of identity theft, not the least seniors who might be more vulnerable or susceptible to thieves.  I will follow the FTC’s progress and provide updates on their efforts on this very important topic.