Microsoft recently announced that they have joined with other industry and private groups to help combat the issue of fraudulent use of a consumers personally identifiable information.

From New Internet Fraud Alert to Help Rescue Stolen Account Credentials:

Internet Fraud Alert will offer a trusted and effective mechanism for participating researchers to report stolen account credentials discovered online — such as username and password login information for online services or compromised credit card numbers — to the appropriate institution responsible for that account. Through a centralized alerting system powered by Microsoft technology developed specifically for this program, Internet Fraud Alert will quickly inform companies about compromised credentials, allowing them to take the appropriate action to help protect their customers.

The current partners in this new endeavor are:

This site is intended to report the theft of consumer data to the companies that need to know of the compromise so they can take immediate steps to protect that data and your personal accounts.  If for some reason your information is included in a discovered theft and it is reported to a company they in turn should notify you of the theft and assist you in protecting your information.

I think this is a terrific step.  Moving quickly in identifying thefts in order to minimize the risk and exposure your personal data may suffer is the right thing to do.  Obviously I think everyone would prefer to see the theft never happen and we should all continue to do things to protect our data. That includes expecting companies that we do business with to protect our info by doing everything in their power technologically and personally to safeguard it.

However, sometimes this type of thing will happen and therefore we expect commercial companies to do their best to minimize our exposure to losses. After that we expect them to take steps to not allow the theft to happen again.

After a theft of personal data you may feel at greater risk and choose to move onto another company – as consumers that is our choice.  I recommend you make an informed choice to move to another company by using all of the resources at your disposal such as personal referrals, the Better Business Bureau and the Internet to learn more about them.  As with anything take what you learn with a grain of salt and decide on your best course of action based on several factors and not just one.