FYI: New website compiles ID theft resources

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NEW YORK (AP) ? Are you concerned about having your name and credit history hijacked? Or are you trying to recover from identity theft?

The Consumer Federation of America, an advocacy group made up of more than 300 consumer organizations, has unveiled a new website that pulls together information and resources from a range of government agencies and non-profits. The site aims to be a one-stop shop for ID theft issues, www.idtheftinfo.org .

CONSUMER HELP

The website features information for consumers who are trying to protect their identities and victims trying to clean up the resulting mess. It offers access to a range of resources including consumer hotlines and guidance on how to obtain free counseling, advice and assistance for victims. Also useful are links to form letters from the Identity Theft Resource Center, which can be helpful as victims set about trying to resolve any problems. Hot topics such as child identity theft, data breaches, medical privacy and guidance on how to avoid scams are also addressed.

There are also links directed specifically toward military families, and a range of quizzes from federal government agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission’s “ID Theft Face-off” and the University of Oklahoma Police Department’s identity theft and fraud quiz, can test your knowledge.

BUSINESS RESOURCES

The site also contains links for businesses to information on how to safeguard customer privacy, check employee backgrounds and safeguard workers’ information.

And it includes the CFA’s “Best Practices for Identity Theft Services,” a series of recommendations for companies that sell protection services to consumers. These were developed after a 2009 survey of websites by the CFA, as well news reports and lawsuits, demonstrated that ID theft protection companies frequently describe their services or make claims that are confusing, unclear and ambiguous. Such services also don’t always offer the protection consumers expect based on their marketing.

WHAT’S UNIQUE

Most of the information on the ID Theft Info site is found on other websites. But the CFA has made it easy for consumers and businesses to access the available information by linking it to one site.

It also offers some content created by the CFA, including a checklist of nine things to consider when shopping for identity theft services. Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a San Diego-based organization, said up until now such information has been hard for consumers to find.