Battling elusive identity theft

An interview with Betsy Broder, assistant director, U.S. Federal Trade Commission

By Dick Carozza

They want to steal your name, your credit card numbers, your reputation, your money, and your life. Betsy Broder and her FTC team have one mission: to keep you from being another identity theft statistic. She encourages fraud examiners to help her in the fight.  

As a veteran litigator at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Betsy Broder once led the investigation and civil prosecution of telemarketing boilerrooms, Internet pyramid schemes, and business and franchise scams in courts. But, as she says, it was a far cry from the complex world of identity theft she now visits daily.

As an assistant director in the FTC's Division of Planning and Information, she oversees the agency's identity theft program including the collection and analysis of consumer-related data, coordination with criminal law enforcement, outreach to industry, and consumer education. Broder has testified before Congress and made numerous appearances in the national media as an expert on identity theft and consumer fraud. She formerly was assistant director of the FTC's Division of Marketing Practices where she supervised consumer fraud litigation in federal court. She has also served as an advisor to the FTC's Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Prior to her work with the FTC, she was a New York State assistant attorney general, handling appellate litigation.

Broder spoke to Fraud Magazine from her office in Washington, D.C.

Can you describe your duties and responsibilities in tackling ID theft?
I work with a talented, motivated and creative group. Together, we aim to reduce ID theft, support criminal enforcement efforts, and help victims to recover. The FTC's ID Theft Team is composed of attorneys who focus on policy and legal issues, an investigator who assists law enforcement, and data analysts who comb through our data to detect trends and clusters of fraud. Beyond our immediate team, we have the support of an award-winning consumer education shop that has produced "Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft" (formerly called "ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name") and that continues to develop new ways to reach consumers and businesses. Also, the Consumer Sentinel team, Consumer Response Center, and information technology colleagues enable us to gather hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints in a system that is available to law enforcement throughout the United States.

My job is to enable all of these talented professionals to work toward our common goal of reducing ID theft and making it easier for victims to recover.

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