Federal Trade Commission to Receive ID Theft Data from Financial Firms

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Financial service companies will soon be sharing consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other law enforcement agencies to help victims of identity theft. The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) will begin sharing identity theft information with these organizations in less than six weeks. The ITAC is operated by the non-profit Identity Theft Assistance Corporation and supported by 48 major financial service companies.

ITAC will begin passing information to the FTC and the FTC will then distribute that information to national law enforcement organizations. Information such as suspected offenders identified by victims and types of reported identity theft scams will be shared in an effort to help local law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute cases of identity theft. This sharing of information should ensure these agencies have links to other local cases that may keep these investigations on an active track. Currently many cases of identity theft hit a dead end as information about other local investigations is not available many times.

"They don't have the big picture in many cases," said Anne Wallace, executive director of the Identity Theft Assistance Corporation told ComputerWorld. "The goal is to allow investigators to find more than one case -- to make links between multiple cases."

Computer World reports that the ITAC was founded in October 2003 and the FTC has had an active relationship with the Center since that time. The FTC has developed relationships with about 1,200 law enforcement agencies nationwide, according Lois Greisman, an associate director in charge of the identity theft program at the FTC who applauded ITAC for the information-sharing partnership.

"It's really good stuff that they're doing," Greisman states. "They will share their consumer complaints with us. I think that's a big deal."
Companies supporting ITAC include Branch Banking and Trust Co., Ford Motor Credit Co., MBNA Corp., U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. The Financial Services Roundtable and BITS are two of the financial industry groups supporting the Center.

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, the FTC acknowledged that it received more than 15,000 contacts each week from both victims of identity theft and consumers wanting to learn how to avoid becoming victims. The FTC is also promoting consumer awareness by developing and distributing educational awareness. The FTC has also instituted identity theft seminars for state and local law enforcement in collaboration with the Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service.

“The Commission is committed to ensuring the continued safety of consumers' personal information,” Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection said in her testimony before the House Committee.

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