New center will focus on identity theft, fraud

Public-private partnership includes FBI and Secret Service

Despite recent attention given to identity theft and fraud, 'we still know very little about the nature of the threat and the best ways to combat it,' according to Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee.

Boehlert's comments hit upon one of the main reasons a public-private research partnership was formed last week to combat identity fraud.

The Center for Identity Management and Information Protection will be located in the Economic Crime Institute of Utica College in Utica, N.Y. The goal is to replace current piecemeal research efforts and pull together resources from industry, educational institutions and law enforcement.

Boehlert, a Utica graduate, said federal research spending through the National Science Foundation is focused on long-term basic research. CIMIP will fill a need for near-term applied research.

Federal founding partners include the FBI and Secret Service.

CIMIP will have an initial budget of $500,000 from corporate contributions and federal grants, said Gray R. Gordon, professor of economic-crime management, who will head the center. In addition to Gordon as executive director, the staff will consist of a full-time administrator. Ad hoc research teams will be assembled from member organizations for specific projects.

'We anticipate that in the next year we will double or triple the size of the center,' Gordon said.

The first project will be a study of emerging criminal groups engaged in identity theft, funded by the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs.

Future research will focus on detection and prevention of identity theft; the role of policy, legislation and regulation; improvement of authentication systems; and data protection technology.

The Secret Service and the FBI will share information with the center. Brian Nagel, Secret Service deputy director, called it 'critically important' for law enforcement to benefit from the expertise in the private and academic sectors. He said law enforcement often is 'too operationally focused' to see the big picture of the problem it is combating.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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