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7/5/2005
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Banks Will Provide ID-Theft Data To FTC

Move will help law enforcement spot large-scale ID-theft schemes.

The Identity Theft Assistance Center said Tuesday that it will provide information to the Federal Trade Commission in order to aid law enforcement in catching perpetrators of ID-theft crimes.

The center, known as ITAC, is a bank-sponsored service that works with victims to restore their identities. Victims are referred to ITAC by their banks. ITAC walks victims through their credit reports, helps them place fraud alerts with credit bureaus, and notifies companies that appear to have had accounts opened fraudulently under victims' names. In its first year of operation, ITAC has helped 2,000 victims restore their identities.

The FTC will place information collected from ITAC in its Consumer Sentinel database, which is accessible by more than 1,300 federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies. The database is used as a source of information to further ID-theft investigations, said George Handley, unit chief of the FBI's Financial Institution Fraud unit, in a statement.

Although banks have worked individually with law-enforcement agencies, the move by ITAC is the first in which banks have shared information on a pooled basis, says Anne Wallace, executive director of the Identity Theft Assistance Corp., which operates ITAC. Law-enforcement efforts have been hampered by a lack of information that could tie together fraudulent activities that cross jurisdictional boundaries, Wallace says. The Consumer Sentinel database provides such information and also helps aggregate individual reports to help spot large fraud schemes. "Instead of a lot of $50 crimes, it's now one $50,000 crime," Wallace says.

Wallace says ITAC has experienced an increase in the number of ID-theft victims it has helped in recent months as more companies have joined the consortium.

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