CUNA, CUNA Mutual Provide ID Theft Prevention Kit

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All U.S. credit unions last week should have received instructions on how to download an ID theft prevention kit, courtesy of CUNA and CUNA Mutual.

"The information will identify key action steps for credit unions to educate members, implement appropriate internal control prevention measures and provide victim assistance," the two organizations said. Estimates are that incidents of identity theft cost U.S. businesses and financial institutions nearly $48 billion in 2003.

CUNA's Centers for Personal Finance and Professional Development and CUNA Mutual's Credit Union Protection collaborated to develop the online toolkit that pulls together a host of resources "credit unions can quickly access to educate themselves and their members."

"Identity theft has exploded in recent years, in part because so many avenues of opportunity exist for someone inclined to commit the crime," said Mike Kitchen, CUNA Mutual president and CEO. "It can be as high-tech as a keystroke-recording device added secretly to a computer, or as mundane as someone rifling through trash for intact credit card slips. Credit unions are experiencing more losses in the plastic card and fraudulent deposit areas, and there's no question these spikes are tied directly to increased occurrences of identity theft."

The information being provided to credit unions includes:

* "ID Theft-Checklist of Credit Union Responsibilities," which the two organizations said will guide credit unions in assessing and addressing specific institutional responsibilities for fighting ID theft. Included is a Checklist Supplement, providing additional information on each checklist item.

* Links to member education brochures to help members with best practices to avoid becoming ID theft victims, including the brochure, "ID Theft, How to Prevent It and How to Get Over It."

* The industry standard "ID Theft Affidavit" for ID theft victims to send to credit bureaus and financial institutions where accounts were opened or used in their name.

* Federal Trade Commission brochure, "When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name," the primary resource for any ID theft victim.

* BITS Financial Services Roundtable white paper on financial institution responsibilities pertaining to ID theft.

* Links to ID theft videos from the U.S. Postal Service, FTC, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

* Information about seminars and training to help credit unions prevent ID theft, including online ID theft webinars scheduled in August, and a Security and Fraud Institute scheduled in September.

Credit unions also can access the toolkit by visiting www.cunamutual.com/IDtheft or www.cuna.org/initiatives/idtheft.html.

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