DMA to Launch Identity Theft Campaign with FTC

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NEW YORK -- The Direct Marketing Association announced yesterday that it will partner with the Federal Trade Commission in its "AvoID Theft" campaign.

The announcement was made at the 2006 DM Days New York Conference & Expo here.

The goal of the campaign, debuted by the FTC in May, is to provide information on how consumers can avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and what to do if they suspect their personal information is being misused.

"The message of the AvoID Theft campaign is practical, clear and concise: Deter. Detect. Defend," said DMA President & CEO John A. Greco Jr., in a statement. "We're committed to helping the FTC get those words out into the public and understood by as many consumers as we can."

The FTC program coincided with an executive order signed by President George W. Bush, creating an Identity Theft Task Force, chaired by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and co-chaired by FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras. The Task Force will develop a strategic plan to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of government efforts to deter, prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute identity theft.

The FTC maintains the central federal database for ID theft complaints. Its Division of Privacy and Identity Protection helps criminal law enforcement detect and prosecute identity thieves and provides victim assistance and consumer education. The agency also pursues law enforcement actions against companies that fail to provide reasonable security for sensitive customer data. Since 2001, the FTC has brought 13 such cases and challenges organizations that make deceptive claims about privacy procedures and security.

To help spread the word about the program, the DMA is developing a series of template materials that will be provided to its member companies. The brochures, bill stuffers, online content, and other materials can then be co-branded and offered to customers. These materials will include tips for consumers on how to guard against identity theft and recognize when they might be at risk, as well as the appropriate steps to take if they believe that they have been a victim.

Campaign materials will be available to DMA members later this summer, with a consumer Web site up by early fall. All DMA materials will include messages and information that are part of the larger FTC campaign, which is available online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

The FTC and the Justice Department also will send "AvoID Theft: Deter, Detect, Defend" education kits to 4,500 victim advocates across the country.

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