FTC improves ID-theft site

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Federal Trade Commission says it expects to receive at least 500,000 identity-theft complaints in 2016 and suggests that at least 20 million people could be affected. Unfortunately, victims often have to figure out how to rebuild their financial life on their own.

FTC wants to rectify that problem by enhancing its website, identitytheft.gov. In addition to being tied with FTC’s consumer-complaint system, the website now walks consumers through a simplified step-by-step checklist that’s customizable to individual needs and the specific type of identity theft.

However, consumers still should prepare for the worst. Experts say you should copy the front and back of all cards and IDs that are in your wallet or list all accounts that could be affected if you use your smartphone as an electronic wallet. Then, you should put that information with contact details in a safe place.

“Even as the tools for helping you with identity theft have become better, the more information you have right away when you actually have to use those tools, the faster it will be to clean things up, [and] the less time and money that will be involved,” credit expert Gerri Detweiler says.