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Leading financial services, IT and e-commerce companies and organizations yesterday formed an industry coalition to fight online identity theft.

Microsoft Corp, eBay, Amazon.com and Visa are among founder members of the Coalition on Online Identity Theft, which is dedicated to fighting the growing menace of ID theft. Analysts estimate ID theft cost US lenders alone at least $1 billion last year.

Other founding coalition members include: the Business Software Alliance, Cyveillance, McAfee Security, RSA Security, TechNet, Verisign, WholeSecurity, and Zone Labs. The Information Technology Association of America (ITTA) is to do the admin.

The group will address four main areas:

  • Expand public education campaigns against online identity theft to protect consumers

  • Help promote technology and self-help approaches for preventing and dealing with online identity theft

  • Document and share non-personal information about emerging online fraudulent activity to stay ahead of criminals and new forms of online fraud

  • Work with government to cultivate an environment that protects consumers and businesses, and ensures effective enforcement and criminal penalties against cyber thieves


Harris Miller, ITAA president, said the coalition must coordinate efforts with the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies if it is to be effective.

"Most identity theft comes from offline sources, such as personal information and documents thrown away by the trusting consumer in their usual trash disposal," he said. "While a small percentage of the problems come from online sources, recent email frauds have involved notifying a consumer about a fictitious account problem and asking the individual to supply a user-id and password, social security number, credit card information or other sensitive data."

"Scam artists then use the information to operate phony auctions, purchase merchandise under an assumed name, apply for loans, or conduct other illegal activity. Ultimately, the solution is a shared responsibility among industry, government and consumers to advance education and awareness, stronger penalties, cooperation within industry and law enforcement, and work together to prevent the spread of this problem into e-commerce." ®

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