PHOENIX — Last year, identity theft cost U.S. businesses $48 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Arizona topped the list, ranking number one among all the states for identity theft victims per 100,000 population.
David J. McIntyre, Jr., President and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, is no stranger to the devastating effects of identity theft and the victims left in its wake.
On December 14, 2002, thieves burglarized TriWest offices in Phoenix, stealing computer equipment and data files. Those files contained the personal information of approximately 500,000 beneficiaries of the TRICARE program. Authorities speculated the primary motive was identity theft, since other valuables were left behind.
The TriWest break-in made headlines across the nation because TriWest provides health care coverage to America's service men and women, many of whom were oversees in Afghanistan and Iraq at the time of the break in.
"Rather than try to avoid adverse publicity, David McIntyre took quick, decisive action in contacting the individuals whose confidential information was stolen," said Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley. "Not only did he devote a large amount of company resources to ensure everyone involved had the information needed to protect themselves, he used this experience to lobby Congress for stronger legislation to deter identity theft and protect victims."
In recognition of his aggressive approach to the growing identity theft epidemic in Arizona, Romley and Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Valerie Manning will present McIntyre with an award recognizing his leadership in combating identity theft.
"Federal and state laws have yet to adjust to the onslaught of identity theft and that time gap undermines the security and privacy of every American. Identity thieves know that if they get caught, the current punishment is vastly inferior to, for example, robbing a bank. Community service and probation are the common sentences," McIntyre wrote in an editorial featured in The Arizona Republic regarding his work urging Congress to pass tougher identity theft legislation.
The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce believes McIntyre deserves recognition for providing the business community with a blueprint for dealing with identity theft situations.
"David has given our local business community a tremendous amount of information as a result of the break-in. Armed with this knowledge, local businesses can better protect themselves and their clients from the ravaging effects of identity theft," said Chamber President Valerie Manning.
"I am honored and thankful for the recognition provided to our company, and the dedicated staff who put our customers first during a very difficult time," McIntyre said. "We are not just the victims of a crime. We are an organization that believes that being honest with your customers is both the good business and the right thing to do.
McIntyre added: "TriWest is thankful to Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce for this award recognizing the hard work and dedication of so many members of the TriWest family, many of whom made great sacrifices to provide the greatest protection possible for the people we have the privilege to serve."
Romley considers identity theft prevention among the top priorities in the law enforcement community.
With this in mind, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce have introduced the Business Crime Prevention Initiative, a series of presentations designed for small and medium-sized businesses to get the knowledge they need to protect themselves from these crimes.