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July 16, 2009

Nancy Grace gets it wrong

My wife makes me watch Nancy Grace just about every night. Actually, my wife watches Nancy Grace, sometimes multiple times a night (she's on at 7:00, 9:00, midnight and 2:00 a.m., trust me, I know). While my wife is watching Nancy Grace, I am usually blogging. Last night Nancy Grace had a brief 15 to 30 seconds about identity theft and what to do if you become a victim. Nancy Grace's big advice - report it to the Federal Trade Commission?!

Sorry, Nancy, but this is pretty much useless advice. While the FTC is a fine institution, it simply does not have the manpower to help consumers who are victims of identity theft. This is why it is crucial that consumer protection statutes, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, need to provide for private enforcement of its statutes. This allows private citizens whose FCRA rights are violated (you know, the people with actual incentive to enforce the law) to hire private attorneys to sue the credit bureaus or furnishers who violated the FCRA.

Most of the FCRA provides for private enforcement. Unfortunately, some of the best parts of the FCRA (1681s-2(a) for example) do not provide for private enforcement and, as a result, become meaningless because the only ones who can enforce them are the FTC and other governmental entities. These governmental agencies simply do not have the manpower to help even a small fraction of those injured by identity theft, thus leaving those sections without private enforcement unenforced.

What advice should Nancy Grace have given? Report the theft of your identity to the FTC but hire an attorney experienced with FCRA litigation if you actually want anything done about it.

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