Magazine article American Banker

Treasury Sees Ties between ID Theft and Terrorism

Magazine article American Banker

Treasury Sees Ties between ID Theft and Terrorism

Article excerpt

The Treasury Department is worried about what seem to be links between identity theft and terrorism, the assistant secretary for financial institutions said Thursday.

Roughly half of phishing cases currently originate from foreign countries, Wayne Abernathy said. "One suspects that terrorist organizations are involved."

In phishing, an increasingly common e-mail scam, bank customers are lured to an impostor bank Web site where they are tricked into giving their account information and passwords.

"We do think there's a link that can be made from pieces of information we have gathered," Mr. Abernathy said. "Right now it's a conceptual link, but we think we can make it an actual link."

He spoke at an identity-theft press conference in New York organized by American Express Co.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, roughly 27 million American have been victims of identity theft since 1998. Fraud cost businesses about $48 billion and consumers $5 billion in 2002, the FTC said last year.

A number of credit card companies, including American Express, offer to alert consumers whenever an unexpected change is made to their credit report. Such changes may signal identity theft.

Also at the conference, Cathy Black, Amex's director of fraud prevention and data security, said a number of Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act provisions that will go into effect Dec. 1 might help to reduce credit card fraud.

Among other things, merchants will be required to truncate credit card numbers on receipts and consumers will be entitled to free copies of credit reports once a year from each credit bureau.

Susan Grant, the director of the National Consumers League, said proposed rules for enforcing the act would put even more of the responsibility for identifying and preventing fraud on banks and their regulators. …

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