Microsoft and E-Fraud Group Aim to Stop ID Theft

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Microsoft announced it has joined with the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) to launch a new reporting system aimed at cutting down on fraud and theft online.

Dubbed Internet Fraud Alert, the program is already up and running. It is built on Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) technology and administered by the NCFTA, according to a joint statement.

"Internet Fraud Alert provides a new, powerful tool to quickly inform financial and online companies about compromised customer account credentials (such as online usernames and passwords) or stolen credit card numbers," Nancy Anderson, Microsoft deputy general counsel, said in a post to the Microsoft On the Issues blog on Thursday.

"When compromised or stolen account information is uncovered, there is no easy way to determine the company responsible for the account or how best to report the problem, which wastes valuable time and resources," Anderson said.

The move comes at a time when cybercrime is skyrocketing, according to an FBI report released in March.

Joining Microsoft and the NCFTA in the initiative are electronic payments processor Accuity, the American Bankers Association (ABA), the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), Citizens Bank, eBay, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Consumers League, PayPal and others, according to the joint statement.

Anderson cited data from the APWG that she said shows that a million households in the U.S. alone "lost money or had accounts misused" in phishing-related attacks last year.

In addition, a report released in February by Javelin Strategy & Research found that 11.1 million U.S. adults were victims of identity theft and fraud in 2009, causing a loss of $54 billion by businesses and consumers.

Internet Fraud Alert aims to change that. "This program will enable the expeditious identification of current and emerging threats, which is key to the mitigation of compromised data," Ron Plesco, president and CEO of NCFTA, said in the joint statement.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.