theft victims next year will be able to alert banks, credit card companies and
law enforcement with one phone call under a new pilot program, The
Associated Press reported.
Federal Trade Commission said last month identity theft cost consumers and
businesses $53 billion last year. About 9.9 million Americans discovered people
took money from their bank accounts, or obtained credit cards or official
documents in their names, the survey said.
help alleviate the problem, the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents
100 institutions handling about 70 percent of the economy's financial
transactions, is creating an Identity Theft Assistance Center.
financial group said its program would begin May 1, 2004, and involve its 100
members, including Bank One Corp., Citigroup Inc. and MBNA Corp. After one
year, the industry plans to evaluate the program, make needed changes and
expand it to other non-member financial institutions.
the program, victims would call their local bank, which in turn would contact
the assistance center. The center would then call the victim and obtain an
affidavit to be sent to law-enforcement officials, credit card companies,
financial institutions and the credit bureaus.
addition, financial institutions that receive applications for credit or loans
could run the requesting person's name through the center's database to make
sure the name of the person asking for the money is not the same as someone who
has reported that he or she is a victim of identity theft. If the names match,
the institution will be alerted to do a more thorough check of the applicant.
Kovacevich, chairman of Wells Fargo & Co., which is handling the pilot
program, said, ''Financial institutions need to provide a single point of
legislation before the Senate would allow consumers to receive free copies of
their credit reports annually, place fraud alerts in their credit reports, and
call one credit bureau and have the information shared with all. The House has
passed similar legislation.