Many people contact the police when their wallets are stolen.

But they rarely need to when they are the victims of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday.

Report the theft to the FTC’s instead, the agency urged.

“ helps consumers get started on recovery quickly, and helps free local police to focus on public safety,” the FTC explained.

The website helps a consumer start a personal recovery plan with prefilled letters to send to merchants, banks and others affected by the theft.

In addition, the site creates an identity theft report that can be used by consumers in place of a police report to clear their credit records of transactions done by the crooks.

The FTC noted there are three situations in which ID theft should be reported to police.

  1. When you know the identity thief, or have other information that could help a police investigation.
  2. When an identity thief has used your name in a traffic stop or any encounter with police.
  3. When a creditor, debt collector or someone else affected by the identity theft insists that you produce a police report.

One of the nation’s leading consumer cybersecurity experts, U.S. PIRG Federal Program Director Ed Mierzwinski, said he agrees totally with the FTC’s recommendations.