Online retailers and technology companies, including Microsoft, eBay and Amazon.com, have teamed up to fight online identity fraud.
The Coalition on Online Identity Fraud was launched on Tuesday by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) IT industry trade group, which will act as the coalition's secretariat.
Public education campaigns are needed to educate consumers, while technical and self-help solutions are needed to prevent and deal with the crime, the ITAA said. The companies in the coalition will share and document information on cybercrimes to stay ahead of the latest type of criminal activity.
The Business Software Alliance, a founding member of the coalition, sees this as a priority area for the whole industry, said Shannon Kellogg, director of security policy.
"We have two messages. It's important to highlight the issue, and also to make suggestions that help consumers to empower themselves with the technologies that are out there," he added.
Most identity theft still comes from offline sources, including personal information thrown away by consumers. That information can then be used in scams to get further personal information, such as passwords and social security numbers, and to buy products or apply for loans. The coalition is keen to stop the spread of the problem into e-commerce.
"We expect a report to be released by the US Federal Trade Commission this week, showing a strong increase in identity theft, both physical and online. The data I've seen shows that the physical problem is enormous but you bet we're concerned about online too," Kellogg said.
The coalition will push the US government for effective enforcement and penalties against criminals, and will work with government agencies including the Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
While the coalition is US-focused, the companies involved are global and will recognise that identity theft is a global problem, Kellogg said.
The founding members of the coalition are Microsoft, eBay, Amazon.com and the ITAA, plus the Business Software Alliance, Cyveillance, McAfee Security, RSA Security,TechNet, Verisign, Visa USA, WholeSecurity and Zone Labs.
Gillian Law writes for IDG News Service