Since its formation in 1999, the Identity Theft Resource Center has maintained a centrist position when it comes to the issues surrounding identity theft. With Americans polarized on so many issues, we feel it is more important than ever that we strive to maintain this position and to articulate it to the general public.
Providing free services to victims and consumers remains at the core of our mission. We believe part of that responsibility is to be a public sage and provide a “voice of reason” in the information age. There is a public benefit in the vast information that is available online, but this abundance - of often conflicting information - also presents a huge problem in and of itself: Even with all of the information, there is a lack of wisdom, and often a lack of reasonableness. Consumers often communicate to the ITRC that they find it challenging to sort through the chatter and decide what is in their best interest. Part of the stated ITRC mission is to review this public information and provide an expert opinion as part of our public education effort.
ITRC has a wealth of experience in working with consumers and victims. We understand their plight, their thinking, and their reasoning. We are compassionate about the issues that victims and consumers face, however our compassion is grounded in reality. The reality is that there are many stakeholders in this area, and all need to be a part of the discussion. Too often the discussion about best practices and related issues, that need to be addressed, becomes adversarial. This often results in these groups taking sides rather than engaging in a meaningful dialogue. This ends up with factions among the stakeholders in which promoting their own agenda becomes paramount, overtaking reasonable discussion and compromise.
While there can be no compromise when it comes to public safety, the definition of identity theft and related topics can and should be debated when it comes to the overarching issues. Having these discussions without the benefit of opinions that differ accomplishes nothing. Excluding any party from the dialogue actually fails at achieving the public good. Victims and consumers are far better off in the long run if all parties - government, advocacy groups, law enforcement, and business - work together.
The ITRC will continue to attempt to bridge the gap between parties, to provide a reasonable and centric viewpoint, and to compromise when it’s appropriate and for the public good. A position of “rightness” without “reason” accomplishes nothing of worth.