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IT trade association CompTIA is considering launching as part of its effort to develop a set of guidelines to help resellers transform their businesses a new “trustmark” certification solution providers could earn to show that their businesses are based on sound financial principles.

While that concept is good in itself, in that anything that helps solution providers run their businesses better is a good thing, this “trustmark” should be more than just something that solution providers earn to make vendors have more faith in them.

As reported in our sister publication, there has been a raft of fraud lately among the ranks of IT professionals wherein a business or IT executive sets out to defraud his or her company by creating a shell company that provides some type of IT service.

For example, New York City has filed a complaint against two former IT executives associated with the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The complaint alleges that the two men set up bogus companies to do IT work for the office as part of scheme to pilfer money from a federal fund set up in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard in Canada is pursuing a wide-ranging civil lawsuit that seeks to recover $146 million that was allegedly lost when multiple individuals set up reseller and services companies to overbill the Canadian government.

More recently, the New York Post the week of Aug. 7 published a piece by Christopher Byron questioning the appropriateness and legality of a buyout of The A Consulting Team by an Indian company, Helios & Matheson, which the article says has questionable finances.

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While all these cases and related issues have yet to be resolved and may in fact prove to be the opposite of what is being portrayed in court documents and financial reports, the fact of the matter is that cases like these tarnish the overall reputation of the channel.

We’ve all heard any number of financial horror stories over the past many years involving solution providers, so a “trustmark” should be not just something to soothe vendors but rather a badge of honor that says to customers that they can trust the solution provider that earned it.

We’re still in early days of the whole “trustmark” concept, but given the fact that any impropriety among the few negatively affects the whole, the time has come for the channel to create some kind of self-policing mechanism that not only inspires faith in the customer, but also serves to upgrade the image of the channel as a whole across the entire spectrum of the IT industry.

Michael Vizard is editorial director of Ziff Davis Media’s Enterprise Technology group. He can be reached at