Financial Institutions to Share Identity-Theft Data

Working through the Identity Theft Assistance Center, financial companies have banded together to provide shared data on all cases of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

Due in large part to the rash of identity-theft cases involving financial powerhouses such as Bank of America, Ameritrade and ChoicePoint, the financial industry has banded together to provide shared data on all cases of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

The data will be forwarded weekly on an encrypted disk to the FTCs Consumer Sentinel database, which contains more than one million consumer fraud complaints that have been filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations.

FTC leadership seems eager to receive the information. Centralizing identity-theft complaints will significantly help law enforcement agencies at all levels of government catch thieves and support prosecutions, Lois Greisman, associate director of the FTCs Division of Planning and Information, said in a news release from ITAC (the Identity Theft Assistance Center).

Although the FTC is eager to gain more information on verified cases of identity theft, it was ITAC, a nonprofit group representing 100 of the largest integrated financial services companies, that initiated the process.

"Our members really wanted to find ways to work with law enforcement more effectively. In fact, it was part of the reason ITAC was formed," said Anne Wallace, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization.


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about the security breach that exposed about 40 million credit cards of all brands to potential fraud.

To ensure that its goals would be achieved, ITAC has been working with the FTC for about two years. The timing of this weeks announcement is tied to the signing of a data-sharing agreement reached last week between ITAC and the FTC, Wallace said.

Wallace said that although many individual banks already share data with fraud departments, there hasnt been any way until now to pool information from a variety of institutions and share it on a collective basis.

Sharing fraud data with law enforcement is the second of ITACs three goals. The first goal of the organization, founded in early 2004, was to create a victim-assistance center, which became operational in August 2004.

The third objective, Wallace said, is to use the collected data to provide more information to the financial services industry about how to prevent fraud and identity theft, how to help victims, and what more can be done to prevent it.

In other financial technology news, IBM of Armonk, N.Y., has partnered with Identrus LLC, a New York-based company founded by a host of financial institutions including Bank of America, Barclays, Chase Manhattan and Citigroup, to promote banks use of digital certificates.

Under the terms of the partnership, the IBM eServer zSeries operating system will offer built-in digital certificates to conduct e-business transactions. The goal, according to Jim Porell, an engineer for IBM eServer zSeries, is to provide strong authentication and better security for e-business transactions in an effort to stem the tide of electronic identity theft and fraud.