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HOW IT ALL STARTED
In 1992, the credit card industry was experiencing an increase in credit cards stolen out of the mail. Due to these losses, executives from major credit card companies met with the Chief Postal Inspector and expressed their concerns. In response, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) started a Credit Card Mail Security Initiative (CCMSI) in an effort to work more effectively with the credit card industry. A coordinated crime prevention effort was needed to reduce fraud losses and allow law enforcement to concentrate investigative attention on organized criminals. Results were immediate: non-receipt fraud losses were reduced 35% and this reduction in loss trend continues.
In 2003, the USPIS broadened the scope of the meetings and included other significant trends that were taking place, such as counterfeit check schemes, internet fraud and bank fraud schemes. Since the focus expanded, the name of the group was changed from the CCMSI to the Financial Industry Mail Security Initiative (FIMSI). Over the years attendance at FIMSI meetings has significantly increased to include investigators employed by the financial and retail industries, law enforcement personnel, security and retail managers, credit card operations personnel, prosecutors, consumer advocates and business mailers. The group formally meets twice a year. Over the past twenty years, FIMSI has addressed specific problems, shared best practices, and has been responsible for several preventive initiatives including:
• Card Activation, where the consumer must call to activate a credit card that is received through the mail;
• Use of the National Change of Address service by the credit card industry, which prevents the fraudulent use of changes of address; and
• Identification of addresses belonging to Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies and other mail drops to reduce the risk of sending credit cards and other access devices to fraudulent addresses and vacant properties.
• FIMSI is responsible for the development and publication of: Publication 280, Identity Theft: Safeguarding Your Personal Information; Detecting and Preventing Account Takeover Fraud.
• FIMSI also produced a training video: Identity Crisis.
In addition, the Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group publishes the FIMSI Newsletter twice a year as part of the Postal Inspection Service’s continuing effort to improve communications among members of the credit card and retail industries, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies. The newsletter contains information of relevance to financial crimes investigators, significant investigations, identity theft articles, and Inspection Service resources.