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ITRC Fact Sheet 112
Enhancing Identity Theft Victim and Investigator Communications

The goal of the following information is to enhance your working relationship with law enforcement and credit investigators. It includes:

One of the most common complaints we receive from identity theft victims is that they feel that law enforcement doesn’t care. Many also complain that fraud investigators at banks and credit card companies don’t appear to have the victim’s best interest at heart. They may be right. But this also may be partially due to poor communication. We all adjust our communication styles depending on the environment. At work we talk one way, and at home we could cover the same topic in a variety of different ways. The same is true in crime investigations.

Our victim advisors have often listened to a victim talk about his or her case for 15 or 20 minutes -- without being told the pertinent facts or having the victim clearly identify what they need from us. (That’s one of the reasons ITRC is here, to provide the emotional outlet you might need.)

This fact sheet will help you state your case in a way that is most useful to the police and to fraud investigators at financial institutions. The tips in this sheet will help you to focus on the pertinent facts and see your case the way they do.

WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO DO MOST OF THE ORIGINAL WORK?

Fraud crimes are complicated. As one police detective said, the person who knows the facts and details of this case best is YOU. The ability to solve these crimes is usually contained in the details. When one person tells another person a story, especially a complicated story, the person hearing the details usually gets a rough sketch of the situation. This is often what happens when a police officer takes a fraud report from a victim who may not understand which points are the most important to the case and which points really can be left for another time, or are just not relevant. After all, most of us are not professional investigators. The result is that a detective may determine that the case is not workable, when in fact it may be. By writing down the details, you will also outline and organize the case in your mind so that you can easily tell the story quickly.

FIRST STEPS: PRIOR TO TALKING WITH THE INVESTIGATOR

1. Prior to talking with an investigator, start a journal so that you can record details as they occur (refer to ITRC Fact Sheet FS 106 – Organizing your Identity Theft Case).

2. Rough Draft: Outline the story, in chronological order, exactly the way that you discovered it. Put down anything you think is important. Don’t censor your thoughts. You’ll edit it later. There are certain things that are important to include:

Some of the information on this list can only be obtained after you present a copy of the police report to the merchant or credit provider. Get together what you can for the initial report then supply the additional information as you receive it.

3. Working draft: Now write a concise narrative, removing any emotional responses (for example, “He was very rude to me on the phone”). This draft will lengthen as you uncover more information.

4. Include your identifying information:

Be ready to provide, but do not record on this document, the following three items:

MAKING YOUR REPORT

Law enforcement officers carry large caseloads. They need to get the information as quickly and as accurately as possible. It is important that we spend their time wisely. After all, the point is for them to catch the bad guys.

1. Listen and Participate

2. Question and Communicate

BEHIND THE SCENES 

The handling of your report and case will depend on the available resources of the agency that takes the report. If law enforcement feels that the case is unworkable, focus on clearing your name.

EVIDENCE ISSUES

What might seem to you to be clear-cut evidence might not help your case due to various evidence laws. Law enforcement must clearly prove a chain of evidence that connects the crime to the imposter. For a more detailed look at “The Evidence Trail,” please read ITRC Fact Sheet FS 114.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR INVESTIGATOR:

This is the investigator’s case. They must be in charge of the investigation, or you could taint the case. However, you can ask how you might help and work with them. Remember, however, that your theft is not their only case. Please respect their time and be brief in your phone calls. Get right to the point. Identity theft cases are slow and may take months to complete.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

As much as we would like them to, most identity theft cases do not end in arrest. Usually, this is not the fault of law enforcement; they are overworked and understaffed. Leads may not pan out, and evidence we thought might be perfect may not legally prove a case. We hope that by following the advice we have provided, your case will end in an arrest and conviction. Should it not, however, know you did everything humanly possible. And please note that many detectives leave unsolved cases on their desk hoping that sometime, somehow, a new piece of evidence will finally prove to be the imposter’s undoing.

 

This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..