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Identify Theft is One of the Fastest Growing Crimes in Mississippi.

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 08 Mar 2013 02:59pm | comments

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. including here in Mississippi. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports the cost of these crimes reach far beyond simple dollars and cents.

Over the past five years Identity theft has risen over 700 percent. John Ohara with the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi says the best way to avoid becoming a victim is by shredding sensitive documents like canceled checks, old tax returns and credit card statements.

"People still go into trash and get that out. You know the Internet has become a big source, people calling to update information and people just handing their identity away. So getting the paper document sometimes gives people a lead that makes them sound  familiar. Hey I have your account number here I need to verify your date of birth and social security number. So you figure oh they got my credit card statement it must be the credit card company."

No one know better than Stephanie Gannucheau how devastating it is to have your identity stolen.

"They took checks and started writing checks and we thought we got that all handled. And literally four years later those checks started popping up again."

The Hazlehurst resident says even though she did all of the things she was suppose to do to rectify the situation she continued having to jump through hoops.

"You know all those documents like my bank document, my police report. You had to go through the story every time to not be held responsible for them,"

"We've had individuals who have not only had problems with their credit report but they've also had problems with law enforcement agencies."

Bridgett Wiggins is with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection.  She says her office has seen individuals who have not only had problems with their credit reports but also with law enforcement agencies.

" Because not only do these identity thieves take their information and open up new bank accounts or credit card accounts they actually commit crimes in their names. And if you're stopped at something as simple as a traffic stop there could be a warrant out for your arrest and you not even know it."

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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