New identity theft alert system tested

Thursday, 30 October 2003, 3:44 PM EST

The Financial Services Roundtable, which represents 100 institutions handling about 70 percent of the economy's financial transactions, is creating an Identity Theft Assistance Center to help fight the rising incidence of the crime.

"Nothing is more important to a healthy, vibrant economy than consumer confidence," said Dick Kovacevich, chairman of Wells Fargo & Co., who is handling the pilot program. "Financial institutions need to provide a single point of contact."

The Federal Trade Commission, in the most comprehensive government survey of the problem, said last month that identity theft cost consumers and businesses $53 billion last year alone. About 9.9 million Americans found that someone last year took money from their bank accounts, or obtained a credit card or official document in their name.

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