Consumers, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and
retailers are all looking for answers to the compelling question:
"How do we get ahead of it?" "It" is the ongoing
challenge of fraud and identity theft. And it's a major and growing
Annual check fraud losses are estimated between $10 billion and
$20 billion. According to the American Bankers Association (ABA),
nearly 65 percent of fraudulent checks are drawn on consumer accounts.
Verisign Inc. reports an estimated $2 billion will be lost to credit
card fraud, and 1 in 6 online consumers has been the victim of credit
The Department of Justice reported in May that the Federal Trade
Commission received 263,000 fraud complaints in 2002 - nearly half
of which were Internet-related. Last year, the Internet Fraud Complaint
Center referred nearly 48,000 Internet-related fraud complaints
to law enforcement. The National Consumers League reports Internet
fraud losses in 2002 were nearly $7 million, up from $3 million
A criminal with your Social Security number, date of birth, driver's
license and mother's maiden name, can apply for credit, loans or
utility services in your name. According to the Federal Trade Commission's
Identity Theft Clearinghouse, typical types of identity theft are:
- Credit card fraud - More than half of all victims said that
either a credit card account was opened in their name or an existing
account was being used without authorization.
- Financial institution fraud - The thief either opens an unauthorized
checking or savings account in another person's name or writes
checks on someone else's account, sometimes after stealing checks.
- Communications services - A quarter of all victims said that
a thief used their name to open service with a utility such as
the phone company.
- Fraudulent loans - The thief uses the victim's identity to obtain
a loan for a car or other item.
What can you do to protect your credit union members? Plenty, according
to guidelines that have been developed by the Financial Services
Roundtable, a trade group of large financial services providers,
including credit unions, banks and insurance companies, and BITS,
an association formed to promote consumer confidence and trust in
financial transactions through technology. CUNA has endorsed the
Fraud Reduction Guidelines, including:
- Establishment of a single point of contact within a financial
institution for reporting ID theft;
- Use of a "uniform affidavit" to report ID theft that
can be used both inside a financial institution, and among financial
- Sharing strategies for fraud prevention, such as staff training
- Providing education materials to victims of identity theft;
- Sharing information with law enforcement and other appropriate
agencies and organizations.
An online fraud education module for credit unions is the latest
fraud-fighting strategy to be released by Liberty. The program was
developed with Liberty partner MyDAS Marketing. The module includes
testing and certification upon successful completion of the course.
The fraud education module adds to Liberty's already extensive arsenal
in the fight against fraud:
- The EZShield™Check Fraud Protection Program
SM covers a credit union member's complete check
order for up to two years and takes care of costs associated with
forged signatures and endorsements, and alterations.
- The Premier Pack™ with Personal Identity Theft Protection
SM starts when a member orders two boxes
of checks, but it covers any transaction -by check, card or Internet
-and recovers many of the costs associated with identity theft.
- The Supercheck™from SAFEChecks is the most secure
personal check ever developed. It's designed by former master
forger Frank Abagnale and imprinted and distributed to credit
unions by Liberty. "Supercheck is the most secure personal
check in the marketplace," Abagnale said.
For more information, visit www.libertysite.com.
NOTE: Complete terms of EZShield are available on www.ezshield.net,
or by calling toll-free at 1.888.439.7453. EZShield is licensed
from and serviced by EZShield, Joppa, Md. EZShield is not affiliated
Liberty does not sell, solicit or negotiate insurance. The Personal
Identity Theft Protection Program is automatically included as a
benefit to Premier Pack purchasers. Please direct inquiries about
the terms and conditions o coverage to the AIG companies, toll-free,