Fla. TV Special Helps Public in Fight Against Identity Theft

December 8, 2003

At the start of the busiest shopping season of the year, the Florida Bankers Association recently announced its sponsorship of a statewide television broadcast aimed at protecting the public against Identity Theft.

Identity Theft – one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation – affects nearly 10 million people annually. A recent study on Identity Theft by the Federal Trade Commission reported that the average cost to victims totaled $500 and the average loss to businesses and financial institutions totaled $4,800. The study also found that victims spend an average of 30 hours resolving the problems that stem from Identity Theft.

Identity Theft occurs when someone steals personal information such as a Social Security number, a driver’s license number or other personal financial information and uses it to establish credit by applying for loans or credit cards to buy merchandise and services.

“Fueled by the growth of the Internet, the number of consumers falling victim to Identity Theft has risen dramatically over the past few years,” Mike Fields, president of the FBA, said.

Ninety-four percent of Americans reportedly believe their personal information is vulnerable to misuse, and their fears are well founded.

“The ease with which the crimes are perpetrated and the financial impact on individual and business economies all support the need for a far-reaching consumer oriented informational campaign,” Alex Sanchez, CEO of the Florida Bankers Association, commented.

This year the campaign expands to include sponsorship of a special half-hour television broadcast that will reach millions of viewers across the state and the nation with a strong consumer education message that could save countless individuals from becoming victims of this fraud.

The program demonstrates simple steps consumers can take to protect themselves from this life-altering crime. The broadcast also showcases new technologies, as well as far-reaching efforts by law enforcement, financial institutions, and government to keep individuals and families safe from Identity Theft.

For the past three years the FBA has kicked off an ID Theft awareness campaign at the holiday season. The campaign has included print materials, radio public service announcements in English and Spanish, a Web site and a first-of-its-kind online fraud reporting system, FraudNet.

Taking part in the broadcast are the Florida Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer, chief investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, nationally recognized consumer experts, leaders in the banking, business and financial industries, victims and perpetrators of these frauds.

“With Identity Theft on the rise, I am very appreciative of the Florida Bankers Association’s efforts in battling this crime,” Attorney General Charlie Crist remarked. “Consumers need to stay informed on ways to protect their personal information and this program furthers that goal.”

“Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing types of financial fraud in the U.S., with thousands of consumers falling prey to Identity Theft every week,” Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher added. “I applaud the Florida Bankers Association for stepping up efforts to help educate consumers on how to safeguard their personal information.”

NBC 6/ WTVJ Miami and Tallahassee based Tight Shots & Sounds, Inc., and Mediawise Creative Services collaborated on the production of this 1/2-hour television special. The special broadcast, Stolen Identities: Protecting Your Good Name, will be offered, at no cost, to television stations across the state.

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