WASHINGTON - House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach on Monday urged banking trade groups, Attorney General Janet Reno, and state attorneys general to coordinate efforts to combat identity theft.

"Without a greater commitment by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and a stronger partnership with the affected industry groups, the identity thieves who are preying upon unsuspecting consumers in increasing numbers and visiting escalating losses upon financial institutions across the country will only become further emboldened," he said in a letter detailing a four-point plan to crack down on the crime.

State chapters of bank trade associations should appoint special task forces exclusively focused on preventing and detecting identity theft, Rep. Leach said. He also recommended that federal and state prosecutors appoint a liaison for identity theft complaints made by the public and the banks.

Law enforcement should also make stopping the theft a higher priority, and Congress should increase funding for the Secret Service's efforts to stop it, he said.

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