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Equifax offers its first I-card

The Equifax Over 18 card is one of the first to use the open standards from the Information Card Foundation.

Online information cards or I-cards such as this one from Equifax may one day be used instead of passwords to access Web sites.

Equifax on Thursday introduced it's first information card or I-card, Equifax Over 18 card. I-cards are envisioned to be the online equivalent of a driver's license, passport, or similar ID. The basic idea is that customers would have an electronic wallet with various information cards that would allow customers to bypass typing in user names and passwords.

In this case, the Equifax card proves--via a trusted third party--that you are over 18 when accessing specially marked Web sites. "With fraud and identity theft on the rise, companies need better, more secure ways to conduct transactions online and take their identity management practices to the next level," said Steve Ely, president of Equifax Personal Information Solutions, in a statement.

In June Equifax was among a handful of companies behind the new Information Card Foundation. Other companies include Google, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and PayPal. For example, Microsoft's new Geneva project relies upon ICF standards. The Equifax card is one of the first I-cards based on the ICF standard that users can sign up and use.

In the near future, the foundation hopes that I-cards will contain personal data such as profile, purchase preference, payment, or verified identity information, as well as password information. Kim Cameron, an identity and access architect for Microsoft, told CNET News in June that the cards really do improve online security. "There's this endless digital baptism of filling in forms and logging in everywhere, and it creates a wonderful environment for the criminal element through phishing attacks and what have you because on the Internet no one does know you are a dog."

To produce the card, Equifax worked with Parity, an information management company that last month announced an online card site based on open ID card standards.

Those interested in trying out the I-card can sign up with Equifax or use Parity's Azigo I-card management software to enable one-click sign-in and identity verification. One demo site for the service requires an Equifax Over 18 I-card just to watch the video (alas, no nudity here, just an explanation of the card's uses).