A group of industry heavyweights, including Amazon.com, 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
Founding members of the coalition include: Amazon.com, 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