Launch of the San Francisco Identity Theft Council
The Identity Theft Council (ITC), the fastest-growing, community-based identity theft victim support and education initiative, officially launched its first pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud reached a new high in 2009, affecting 11.1 million adults. The ITC is a non-profit, grassroots organization committed to working with victims and law enforcement to help address this growing problem.
In early 2010, the pilot program was implemented in more than two dozen cities and police departments across the San Francisco Bay area including The City of Hayward, Alameda County, and Contra Costa County. The ITC is unique because it is a grassroots initiative that is implemented community by community and supported by trained counselors in those communities, as well as banks, credit unions, and law enforcement, to help identity theft victims. It takes identity theft awareness a step further by implementing peer-to-peer education at the school level, with seniors and other groups. By the end of 2010, more than 100 cities and communities across Northern California are expected to be participating in the ITC, creating a model and launch pad for other Councils to form across the country.
The Identity Theft Council was developed by Neal O'Farrell, a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and cybercrime. Intersections Inc., a leading provider of consumer and corporate identity risk management services, is a founding partner of the ITC. Other partners and supporters include ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), Elder Financial Protection Network (EFPN), and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA).
"Identity theft is an intangible crime that not everyone is equipped to handle - unfortunately, most identity theft cases end up at the bottom of the stack of police reports and more urgent local crimes take precedence. This leaves victims feeling neglected, frustrated and alone to deal with a crime that can last from several months to several years," said Neal O'Farrell, founder and executive director of the ITC. "Every victim of identity theft wants to know that as soon as they file a report, it will be acted on immediately. We launched the ITC to provide identity theft victims with a local support network they can turn to for help in recovering from this often devastating crime."
The ITC is working with consumer advocates and identity theft prevention experts to help build its educational program and to help resolve identity theft cases.
"Intersections has been a pioneer in the identity theft industry for over a decade and we've seen the damaging effects of what this growing threat can do to consumers," said Michael Stanfield, CEO and founder of Intersections Inc. "When the concept of the Identity Theft Council was first presented to us, we immediately jumped on board because we believe strongly in giving back to the community. Our mission aligns perfectly with the ITC: to help empower and protect identity theft victims through education and support."
Recently, the ITC kicked off its first Junior Counselor Program at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco's Sunset District. Through this program - that will expand to schools across the country - students will have the opportunity to learn about identity theft and participate in awareness training classes provided at their own high schools and educational facilities.
"The Identity Theft Council takes an innovative approach to tackling the problem of identity theft," said Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). "With its unique peer-to-peer education program that collaborates with schools, seniors and local organizations, this program can help protect Californians in many communities across the state."
The official launch of the ITC is being held today, October 27, at The Fort Mason Center in San Francisco at 10:30 am PT. The event will feature The Honorable Senator Mark Leno, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, the District Attorney's office, and other ITC participants and sponsors. For more information on the launch event, please visit: http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org/events?view=event
About the Identity Theft Council
Established in early 2010 in the San Francisco Bay area, the Identity Theft Council (ITC) is a non-profit, grassroots organization that provides identity theft victims with free, ongoing support and identity recovery assistance in their local communities. The Council is creating a nationwide network of local partnerships between law enforcement, the financial industry, and volunteers in local communities to provide hands-on support for victims of identity theft, help law enforcement provide a more coordinated response, and improve identity theft education and awareness community by community, across the country.
The Council was founded by security expert Neal O'Farrell with the support of local law enforcement and Intersections Inc. National partners of the Council include Intersections Inc., Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), Elder Financial Protection Network (EFPN), and ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center. For more information or to become involved in the Identity Theft Council, please visit: http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org/. Follow us on Twitter @IDTheftCouncil or visit our blog at: http://blog.identitytheftcouncil.org/.
Messages of support from around the community and across the nation:
"Much like the Better Business Bureau, the Identity Theft Council is dedicated to increasing consumer trust and raising awareness. The threat of identity theft can severely damage a consumer's trust in the businesses and organizations they work with on a daily basis. We are thrilled to see the Identity Theft Council stepping up, tackling the threat of identity theft and bringing that trust back to the marketplace."
-- Steve Cox, CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus
"The main problem for victims is the aftermath of what happened, and not necessarily just the crime itself. With Identity Theft Councils, victims now have somebody to talk to, a real voice, a real person who cares about what they're going through and can talk them through the pile of paperwork that they're going to have to fill out. It's a great victim advocacy tool."
-- Inspector Anne Madrid, Hayward Police Department, California
"Any police department that wants to be seen as progressive and responsive to their community would certainly be remiss if they didn't seize the opportunity to have something like the Identity Theft Council available for its community."
-- Chief Ron Ace, Chief of Police, Hayward, California
"Identity theft is at record levels, and the elderly are especially vulnerable. By partnering with the Identity Theft Council we can now do so much more to protect this vulnerable group."
-- Jenefer Duane, Founder, Elder Financial Protection Network
"OTA recognizes the importance of user education and awareness in conjunction with businesses providing teachable moments in preventing identity theft. We are proud to be collaborating with the Identity Theft Council's efforts to support victims and improve awareness."
-- Craig Spiezle, Executive Director and Founder of the Online Trust
"We see the struggles of identity theft victims first hand on a daily basis. We know how hard it is for victims to find the reassurance and support they need to get through the tough times and that is why we are happy to see the work the Identity Theft Council has been doing in the San Francisco community. We are thrilled to not only be a supporter of the council but also to be a resource for the organization and the victims they are helping."
-- Anne Wallace, President, ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center