Bank One Calls Attention to ID Theft

Bank One is partnering with the US Postal Inspection
Service and other government entities for a new national crime prevention
campaign to raise awareness among business and consumers facing the specter
of identity theft.

“Today’s initiative is a coming of together of a number initiatives
concerning the growing problem of identity theft,” said Chris Conrad, senior
vice president of fraud management for Bank One.

Conrad told more than three million brochures will be mailed to individuals in areas of the country where identity theft has been most prevalent.

“Identity theft is significant, serious and a growing concern. It’s
something that consumers and businesses need to get educated about, and this
public awareness program is designed to help,” Conrad said.

The name of the identity theft public awareness program is: “Operation:
Identity Crisis,” a national crime prevention campaign to help the general
public guard themselves against identity theft, the fastest growing crime in

In a separate announcement from SunNetwork 2003, Sun Microsystems said it has signed a deal with Bank One in which Sun’s Solaris Web and proxy servers will be used for Bank One’s “high-volume electronic payment application.”

“The application, previously available only for the government sector, runs
on Sun’s SPARC-based servers and secure Web infrastructure consisting of the
Trusted Solaris Operating System and Sun Web and Proxy Servers. It offers
businesses a highly secure, reliable channel for financial transactions that
can be tailored to serve each customer’s individual needs,” the companies

Bank One processes electronic payments for the U.S. Department of Treasury
and runs services for the Department of Homeland Security for a total of 40 million payments representing nearly $800 billion annually.

Conrad said Bank One has a strong commitment to electronic security
protections, especially in its credit card division. Conrad said VISA
publishes credit card fraud statistics, and he said Bank One has fraud rates
20 percent lower than other banks surveyed.

Conrad said his company is spending a great deal to develop proprietary
security technology, and it now employs more than 700 individuals in Bank
One’s fraud department.

On the topic of identity theft and the risks consumers face when giving out
personal information to vendors over the Internet, Conrad has some warning

“I would say approach any Internet interaction with caution and awareness of
what information is being requested to facilitate a transaction,” Conrad

Conrad went onto say that consumers should be wary of merchants asking for
social security numbers, or your mother’s maiden name, as they may be
gathering the clues to invading your accounts, and taking over your personal
identity information.

Conrad said VISA already has its “verified by VISA program, which he says
provides “another level of security for online shoppers.” He went on to say
that MasterCard is developing similar program, which is expected to be
available in the near future.

The Federal Trade Commission in a recent report said more than 9.9 million
Americans have been the victim of identity theft in the last year, and more
than 27 million in the past five years. With businesses losing out more than
$48 billion, and consumers being bilked to the tune of $5 billion in the
past year, alone.

In related news, the U.S. Department of Justice recently
published a report entitled “Identity Theft: The Crime of the New
Millenium,” which details prevention techniques to protect against
potentially costly privacy intrusions. Some of the suggestions the Justice
Department’s report makes include you should “share identity information
only when necessary.”

Bank One on its Web site says much of identity theft information is stolen
through the mail, but the company urges personal computers users to secure
their data.

Credit card numbers should not be provided to anyone on the Internet unless
the consumer has initiated the contact and is familiar with the entity with
which they are doing business. Also, computer users should install a
firewall on their personal computers to prevent unauthorized access to
stored information, says Bank One.

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