Editor’s Choice Award

Winner: The Identity Theft Council

The Identity Theft Council uses a community-based, grassroots approach to tackling identity theft in a whole new way – by creating a national network of local action partnerships comprised of everyone who has a stake in the fight against America's fastest-growing crime: law enforcement, local banks and credit unions, businesses, schools, community groups, and victims.

 The goal of the Identity Theft Council is two-fold – to use trained and vetted volunteer counselors to provide the local, person-to-person support to identity theft victims that law enforcement cannot; and to find more creative and effective ways to make consumers more aware, vigilant and involved in their own protection.

 A central part of the organization's program is its Junior Counselor program for high schools that not only incentivizes and rewards students for getting serious about online security, safety and identity theft, but also encourages them to team up with the council's credit union, community bank and Better Business Bureau partners to build active and long-term education relationships throughout their local community.

 By presenting the identity theft and cybersecurity challenges to students in an entirely new way, the council also has found a way to get high school students to think about cybersecurity as a viable career choice, and to think of subjects, like math and science, as exciting pursuits.

 Not only is the council training and educating the next generation of consumers, it is also preparing these students for the workplace and teaching them how their awareness and vigilance will play a valuable role.

 Established in early 2010 in the San Francisco area, the nonprofit council was founded by security veteran Neal O'Farrell with the support of local law enforcement and Intersections, a provider of identity risk management services. The council is supported nationally by Intersections, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Online Trust Alliance, Elder Financial Protection Network, and the Identity Theft Assistance Center.

The council is active throughout the San Francisco Bay area and is now preparing to launch branches in hundreds of communities across America.

(Photo: From left to right: Steve Schwartz, Intersections; Neal O'Farrell, founder of the Identity Theft Council; Denise Gregor, Abraham Lincoln High School; Karen Lodrick, victim and advocate; Mark Jackson, Alameda County District Attorney's Office; Inspector Anne Madrid, Hayward Police Department; Craig Spiezle, the Online Trust Alliance; Joyce Carcaise, Intersections; Paul Henderson, chief prosecutor, San Francisco district attorney's office; Lt. Jones Wong, San Francisco Police Department; Jenefer Duane, founder, the Elder Financial Protection Network).

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