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franklin county times

Electronic theft: Country's latest type of thievery

By Staff
COMPUTERS Law enforcement investigators say electronic theft and identity theft are the newest forms of thievery in the area. The thieves are hard to find because they could be across country or next door. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
May 14, 2001
R.L. McDonald had searched for months for the perfect truck.
After the Lauderdale County man decided on the right one, he went to his bank to withdraw his savings.
McDonald said bank officials refunded the money to his account and began an investigation. By the end of the next week, the culprits had stolen another $1,900 from the savings account and another $900 from McDonald's checking account.
Orrin F. Fuelling, a Lauderdale County criminal investigator and former FBI agent, said electronic crime is on the rise.
Attempts to get law enforcement officials to intervene were unsuccessful, McDonald said, since the victim is the bank not him and his wife.
McDonald said he feels violated.
Fuelling said McDonald has fallen prey to the country's latest type of thievery, electronic theft. He has also become a victim of identity theft, since more than money was taken from his account.
McDonald also learned someone had applied for several credit cards in his name. Luckily, they were refused because inconsistent addresses were provided, he said.
Lt. Wade Johnson of the Meridian Police Department, whose Criminal Investigation's Division has begun several electronic theft investigations this year, said identity theft can take months or years to detect and even longer to correct.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for the Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.
What you can do:
If you suspect you are the victim of electronic or identity theft, immediately contact your creditors and have them file a fraud alert.
Shred old bank statements, unused checks and deposit slips and credit card applications anything with your bank numbers or Social Security number.
Consider using a post office box instead of a house mailbox since most thieves steal identities from mail boxes. Investigators say most thieves begin with stolen credit card applications.
Remove your Social Security number from everything. Generic driver's license numbers can be obtained through the Mississippi Highway Patrol Driver's License Bureau.
Never give out your Social Security number. Store clerks need only a driver's license number for identity purposes.
Remove all personal information from the face of your checks, including date of birth, Social Security number and workplace.
Never write your ATM number or pin number on anything. Memorize all numbers instead.