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Tech Giants Join Forces Against ID Theft

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A group of industry heavyweights, including, eBay and Microsoft, is joining

forces to fight the onslaught of online identity theft, which is hindering online

sales and damaging the economy.

The Coalition on Online Identity Theft is geared to focus on public education; promote

preventative technology; document and share information regarding online fraudulent

activity, and work with government and law enforcement to better protect business and


”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,” says Harris N. Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of

America, the high-tech trade group that organized the new coalition.

The coalition, according to industry analysts, has a big job ahead of it.

Identity theft incidents grew by 79 percent in the 12 months between June of 2002 and June

of 2003, according to a recent report from Gartner, Inc., a major industry analyst firm.

That means 7 million U.S. adults, or 3.4 percent of U.S. consumers, were victims of identity

theft during that one-year period. And it’s a crime largely going unpunished. Gartner

analysts say that thieves have better than a one in 700 chance of being caught by federal


Researchers at the Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based industry analyst firm, say the problem of

identity theft is only getting worse.

The financial damage caused by online identity theft is not only mounting, it’s exploding at

a growth rate of about 300 percent a year, according to Aberdeen analysts.

Financial loss from identity theft is expected to reach $73.8 billion in the United States

by the end of this year — $221.2 billion worldwide, reports Aberdeen analysts in a recent

study. The current trajectory — based on a 300 percent compound annual growth rate — has

the figures reaching $2 trillion by the end of 2005.

And Aberdeen analysts say it’s a profitable crime. It currently pays an average of $9,800

per incident, according to the Aberdeen report.

The coalition formed to fight this problem is initially focused on reaching out to other

companies and organizations interested in safeguarding the future of e-business, according

to Miller. He adds that the group is going to try to coordinate its efforts with the Federal

Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and other federal, state and local law

enforcement agencies.

Founding members of the coalition include:, the Business Software Alliance,

Cyveillance, Inc., eBay, the Information Technology Association of America, McAfee Security,

Microsoft, RSA Security Inc., TechNet, Verisign, Visa U.S.A., WholeSecurity, Inc., and Zone

Labs, Inc.

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