Guarding Your ID

It's estimated that about a half million people nationwide are victims of identity theft. With this crime steadily on the rise, authorities are warning consumers to beware.

Detective Darrell Theall with the Meridian Police Department says initially at least, identity theft is rather easy. Often he says it happens when people make purchases from stores or give out personal information over the telephone.

"Using a debit card or credit card, someone can write down the credit card number and use it. Someone around here has even burglarized a home before and used a return check to get the account number," says Detective Theall.

And that's not all. Earlier this year, one person working with a local business was indicted on 17 counts of identity theft from customers. Over the years there have also been reports of people trying to make big purchases such as buying a car using someone else's name and other personal information. We're also told that a woman with ties to Meridian is still battling to correct her credit report after someone charged more than $20,000 worth of merchandise using her I.D.

Because this type of fraud often leaves a paper trail, police say many of the violators are caught. However, they say it can take months or sometimes years to clear up the mix up and therefore offer this advice to help ensure that you do not become a victim.

  • 1. Shred before throwing away all credit card applications that you receive by mail and do not want.

  • 2. Never give out personal information over the telephone unless you are sure who the person is on the other line.

  • 3. Keep close checks on bank accounts and credit reports.

"If you see something wrong with your bank account," says Det. Theall "I would contact the bank first or the police and we'll walk you through the steps."