Thursday, February 12, 2009
Duncan says ID theft on rise
By BARRY BURLESON
The best protection against identity theft is prevention.
“Watch your accounts,” Lynn Duncan said. “Monitor your credit activity.”
Duncan, a certified ID theft risk management specialist, was the guest speaker Thursday at the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. She is a managing partner with ID Theft Solutions of America.
She was introduced by program sponsor John LoPreto, senior business advisor with Solomon Strategic Advisors.
LoPreto talked about the tough times economically but added that “one of the biggest industries not facing any challenges in this economy is identity theft.”
“It’s something that can affect anybody,” he said. “It’s a booming industry because of the economy. It makes us more vulnerable.”
Duncan said identity theft is the fasting growing white collar crime in America, according to the FBI. She said the revenue of ID theft has surpassed the revenue of drug trafficking.
The five common types of ID theft are Social Security, medical, driver’s license, financial and character/criminal.
She said when one receives those pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, he should not just throw them away, he should shred them. Persons can opt out of pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-opt-out (567-8688).
Duncan advised against carrying one’s Social Security card in a purse or wallet.
“The chance of losing your wallet is high,” she said. “Thieves are after that Social Security card or medical card.”
Duncan said Social Security ID theft will rise this year; however medical ID theft is the fastest rising.
“Criminals can obtain your health insurance ID card or your Social Security number to get healthcare,” she said. “There are over 47,000 people in the U.S. without health insurance.”
Health insurance ID cards are being sold on the black market, she said, for $500 or $600 each.
Driver’s license ID theft can cause one to receive traffic tickets or other driver-related charges and character/criminal ID theft could lead to one being arrested for crimes not committed.
The one most people are familiar with is financial ID theft. This can cause a person’s bank accounts to be wiped out and credit histories ruined.
Duncan also warned business owners that they must protect their customers’ and their employees’ information.
“You have an obligation to safeguard,” she said.
She urged each person to be his or her own advocate.
“You’re the leader,” she said.
“Small communities are the ones being targeted. Crooks keep getting smarter and smarter. Don’t let them get your information.”
A free copy of your credit report can be obtained from www.annualcreditreport.com
“That’s your baseline – look at it,” Duncan said. “Are all those accounts yours?”
Sarah Sawyer, executive director of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce, updated members on various activities.
She said Leadership Marshall County 2009 is off to a good start with 21 participants.
The annual Mardi Gras “Fun-raiser” will be held Saturday, Feb. 21, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Thistledome Inn, 118 Hwy. 309 S. in Byhalia. Tickets are $20 each. Proceeds will benefit Byhalia Beautiful. There will be music, a silent auction, door prizes and more.
The Marshall-Benton Job Fair is set for Tuesday, March 3, in the McMillan Gym at Rust College.
She welcomed new chamber members – America’s Best Value Inn, Best Western Olive Branch, Bibleway Outreach Fellowship, Byhalia Hardware, El Nopalito, Exel Inc., First Security Bank, Hype Computer Services, Marshall County Humane Society and Signs Plus Graphics.
She recognized the chamber of commerce officers – Bill Kinkade, president; Mika Joyner, past president; Pam Thomas, 1st vice president; Jim Robinson, 2nd vice president; Jacob Norton, financial officer; Janice Wagg, secretary.
Directors are Mary Peeples, Bobbie Matthews, Frances Moore, Kerry Reid, Leah Grant and Mayor O. R. Dempsey, ex-officio.
Other staff members are Doris Lee, Sammie Shackelford, Jan Sisk and Vickie Smithey.
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