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  • Written by Neal OFarrell
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Demo

We're calling it 

Our Really Big iDea

We know that the vast majority of identity thefts could be prevented simply by better user education, awareness, and vigilance.

If we can successfully address this national security challenge, we can fundamentally and permanently change the identity theft landscape, and all the parts of our lives that identity theft impacts.

How?

  • Our goal is to raise up to $3 million to launch the most comprehensive, aggressive, and ambitious nationwide education campaign, to reach, teach, and engage tens of thousands of consumers, students, and police officers in communities across the country over the next three years.
  • We plan to recruit and train up to 5,000 volunteer counselors and community organizers, to provide local support to victims of identity theft and to spearhead local education and training programs around the country.
  • We plan to train 10,000 police officers in identity theft prevention and victim response (connect here to our partnership with the Department of Justice COPS training program - NOF).
  • We plan to establish state-level Identity Theft Councils arcoss the country so that local credit unions, banks, law enforcement and business groups can take the lead at a state level and determine what works best for their communities.

Why?

  • Identity theft is at epidemic levels and affects and impacts all of us, even if we're not victims. The spiralling losses and security costs incurred by businesses and government have to be paid by someone, and that's usually the consumer.
  • There have been an estimated 20 million identity theft victims in the United States in the last 24 months. That works out to an average of 830,000 victims every 30 days, or more than 1,000 every hour.
  • To put that in perspective, there were more victims of identity theft during that period that there were reported burglaries, attempted burglaries, arsons, vehicle thefts, shoplifting, purse snatching, and pick pocketing, nationwide, combined (FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 2009-2010).
  • Identity theft often goes hand in hand with many other crimes, including burglary, mail theft, document forgery, and meth abuse. All these crimes have to be investigated which creates an additional drain on local police departments that are already stretched by budget and manpower issues.
  • Identity theft has been directly connected to the global drug trade and to terrorism.

Experts agree that the best way to prevent the majority of identity thefts from happening in the first place is to change people's behavior through better education and constant vigilance.

If we can reach them, we can teach them.

How can you help?

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 in the San Francisco Bay area. The Council is supported nationally by co-founder, Intersections Inc., the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), Elder Financial Protection Network (EFPN), and the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC). More.

 


  • Written by Neal OFarrell
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Identity Theft Reporting

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  • Written by Neal OFarrell
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About Neal O'Farrell

Neal O'Farrell is the founder and Executive Director of the Identity Theft Council. He is a nationally recognized security expert and a vocal advocate for the importance of better user education and awareness.Neal_OFarrell_Photo_Color_Shadow

Once described as one of the world's Top 20 security experts, Neal began his career in information security nearly three decades ago and has taught security awareness to millions of end users and small business owners around the world.

An avid writer and author on security, Neal has authored more than 150 articles on security and has appeared in numerous publications around the world including CNN Money, BusinessWeek, SmartMoney, Information Week, the National Law Journal, and the South China Morning Post.

He is the author of "Double Trouble - Protecting Your Identity in an Age of Cybercrime," and "Think Security First - Cyber Security Essentials for Today's Small Business." He is a contributor to online security magazine Security Week, and to the identity theft blog ID Guardian. He is also a former columnist with SearchSecurity.com, a Technical Editor for the "Hack Proofing" series of security guides from Elsevier Publishing, and former Editor of The Zone, the monthly magazine and newsletter from security firm Zone Labs that provided security advice to more than 3 million readers in 120 countries.

Neal is Customer Security Advocate for Intersections, the leading provider of identity protection services that have protected more than 30 million consumers since 2000. Intersections operates the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) in Washington, a non-profit victim assistance service created six years ago for financial services companies to assist their customers.

In 2002 Neal founded Think Security First, a non-profit security awareness initiative supported by the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, Cisco, and McAfee. The goal of the program was to provide free security education and awareness to businesses, residents, schools, and law enforcement.

He is a founder and board member of the Center for Information Security Awareness, a non-profit partnership with FBI InfraGard to provide free employee security awareness training and certification to every workplace in the country. Other Board members include Andy Purdy, former cyber Security Czar and Acting Director of the National Cyber Security Division/US-CERT of the Department of Homeland Security; Dyann Bradbury, National Chair of FBI InfraGard; and Mike Levin, former Deputy Director of National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security.

Neal was the first expert to train an entire police department in identity theft awareness, and that program has since been used by more than 200 police departments and police academies, as well as the FBI, the DMV, and US Attorney's Office.

Over his long career Neal has worked as a security advisor to financial organizations, governments, military, intelligence, and Fortune 500 firms around the world, and has taught security awareness to employees from a wide variety of organizations including Toyota, ChevronTexaco, Merrill Lynch, Cost Plus World Market, bebe stores, and the Government of Bulgaria.

Neal has been developing security solutions since the early 1980's, including the first voice-based biometric access control system for the banking industry, and was recently credited with creating the Identity Theft Score, the first personal identity theft risk analysis system to help consumers measure and manage their vulnerability to identity theft.

As a security educator Neal ran his first security conference in 1989, co-hosting with IBM one of Europe's first network security conferences. Since then he has been invited to speak at numerous industry conferences, including the Information Integrity World Summit, the Network Infrastructure Conference, the Financial Network Security Conference, and the Computer Security Institute Annual Conference.

Neal was also invited to Chair the first "Cybercrime on Wall Street Conference" in New York in January 2002.

Neal began his first security business when he graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology's College of Marketing in 1982. By the time he was twenty-five he was regarded as one of the world's youngest computer security experts, helping Ireland's Top 5 banks to protect their networks from the first generation of hackers.

His achievements were recognized when he was awarded the contract to secure the first Irish Banks National Joint ATM Network and he was also retained to develop a security system for Ireland's fledgling cellular network.

In the following years Neal was involved in a variety of security initiatives, developing advanced encryption systems for government and military customers around the world. In 1988 he launched Intrepid, a government-backed project to develop a European rival for the U.S. Government STU3 secure telephone project

Neal has been at the forefront of technical innovation in the war against hackers and first started working on the challenge of identity theft in the late 1980's, developing technologies to help banks authenticate the identity of customers accessing their bank accounts and information.

In 1988 he installed the first two-factor authentication system on Irish banking networks - a technology which is now in the forefront of the battle against identity theft and especially phishing.

Neal is credited with developing the world's first encrypting fax machine (CipherFax) and later developed EtherPhone, the first product to deliver real-time, toll-quality encrypted speech over Ethernet networks.

He was honored for his work as a security entrepreneur by being selected twice as the entrepreneur to represent Ireland in the Export to Japan Study Program in Tokyo, in 1990.

In 1993 while developing a biometrics-based access control system for Britain's largest banks, he authored "The Big Small Business Guide," a best-selling business guide published by the London Evening Standard, one of Britain's most popular newspapers.

Next: How you will work with victims >>

Are you a victim?

If you're a victim of identity theft, you can get help now, at no cost, by calling the ITRC Victim Support Hotline at 1-888-400-5530 to speak to a live counselor.

About The Council

The Identity Theft Council is a great example of how a community can come together, to work together, to help each other. Learn more about how we got started.

Introducing Foster Warriors

Foster Warriors is a nationwide effort by the Council to help foster youth pursue studies and careers in cybersecurity. Learn More

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A Victim's Story

There are millions of victims of identity theft in the U.S., with another million being added every 30 days. Hear how one couple's bad luck turned into a three year identity theft nightmare.

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