Identity theft, and bad checks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Identity theft, and bad checks

October 17, 2002

Albany-- Law enforcement agencies are spending more time investigating Identity Theft. Crooks obtaining people's I.D. numbers, and running up thousands of dollars in bills in their names before they ever know it.

Southwest Georgia police are seeing more Identity Theft cases everyday, and they say you need to take steps to protect yourself. Lt. Craig Dodd of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office spends a lot of time in banks, investigating Identity Theft cases.

Albany Bank and Trust's Dianne Carver helps him with information. She has first hand knowledge of the fast growing crime. Carver was herself a victim. Deposit Operations Officer Dianne Carver said "I had a credit card that was closed for 2 years. Somebody got the number and made a purchase off the Internet. So this can happen to anyone? Yes."

Like many Police Investigators, Dodd spends more of his time battling the fastest growing crime in the State. Lt. Dodd said "It's going to continue to grow as things like the Internet grow. I think the best thing to combat it is to educate the public." Identity Theft comes in many forms. High tech thieves use the Internet and computer programs to obtain personal information.

 Low tech I.D. theft is exploding. Taking your mail from your mailbox and using the information. Going through trash cans to steal your important information from bills or credit card forms. Lt. Dodd said "It's a crime that you can make, unfortunately, a lot of money very quickly at."

To protect yourself from identity theft, do not put your social security number on your driver's license or your checks. Shred your bills and credit card letters. Don't reveal any personal information except to reputable companies, and only if they can show a reason they need it. Don't carry your social security card or excessive credit cards in your wallet or purse, in case it is stolen. Don't give out information on the phone.

Lt. Dodd said "If they call you, you have no idea who they are. They can say they are anyone."

Lt. Dodd says more nursing home patients and long-term care patients are becoming victims of identity thefts. In Southwest Georgia, illegal aliens are using forged identity passes to try and pass counterfeit checks. The fastest growing crime taxing investigators work loads.

Investigators say the biggest frustration in Identity Theft cases is the lack of cooperation from the big credit card companies. You can check your credit report free twice a year, to keep a watch for any signs of identity theft.

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posted at 4:12 by jimw@walb.com