Yesterday, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, testified before a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee on the use of social security numbers (SSNs) in identity theft. In addition to providing background information on the use of SSNs in identity theft and the FTC’s recommendations for preventing misuse of SSNs, the testimony described the Commission’s approach to combating identity theft. Key aspects of the FTC’s approach include:

  • The FTC has brought 32 law enforcement actions since 2001 against businesses, including pharmacies and credit report resellers, that failed to protect sensitive consumer information in violation of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the FTC Act, and other consumer protection laws.
  • The FTC manages and makes available to federal and state law enforcement the Identity Theft Clearinghouse, an online database of identity theft-related complaints.
  • The Commission provides educational outreach to consumers and businesses in order to raise awareness about identity theft and outline precautions to be taken to prevent it.