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Council launches "Neighborhood Watch" to stem identity theft

In the San Francisco Bay area, the Identity Theft Council has launched pilot programs in which information security counselors are deployed to work with businesses, community groups, schools, and law enforcement in local communities to improve their efforts to combat identity theft. Often, tight budgets deter law enforcement from aggressively targeting identity theft. The program also tries to help victims of identity theft to remedy the effects of stolen identity.

"In the end, people can't see the need for security unless they see that it has a direct impact on them, their families, and communities," Neal O'Farrell, executive director of the council, told Dark Reading. "What we want to do is to find a different way to effect this change in people, to deal with it on a personal level."

The council estimates that in 2009 there were more than 11 million victims of identity theft in the US, more than the number of victims of burglaries, petty theft, purse snatchings, pickpocketing, arson, and auto theft combined.

In tandem with its local outreach efforts, the council sponsored an Oct. 27 forum that brought together credit unions, community banks, local law enforcement, schools, community groups, and identity theft victims from the San Francisco area. The forum addressed assistance for victims, sharing the burden of identity theft prevention, and measures to stem the tide of identity theft.

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