Chamber ‘Morning Call’
Published 12:32 am Sunday, February 24, 2008
Identity theft was the topic discussed by keynote speaker Dick Brodbeck of The Better Business Bureau of Mississippi, Inc., at the Chamber monthly breakfast on Wednesday.
Brodbeck, Director of Public Affairs, warned of the many ways identity thieves can take advantage of unsuspecting victims, as well as how to minimize your chances.
According to Brodbeck identity theft is a hot topic and one of the fastest growing white collar crimes. It can cause problems when applying for credit or health and life insurance, as well as creating financial problems.
Several common sense suggestions he offered were not carrying around your social security card, taking your social security number off of your driver’s license, paying bills electronically to avoid mail fraud, shredding all information before throwing it away and getting on the do not mail list. The email address is www.optoutprescreen.com. Registering at this website is good for five years.
There are four buzz words associated with identity theft: fishing, vishing, phreaking and pharming.
Fishing involves the use of mass emails. Sometimes these emails can contain viruses which allow hackers and thieves to gain personal and financial information from your computers.
Vishing involves mass telephoning. Do not leave yourself susceptible to telephone scams — get on the do not call list. The address is www.donotcall.gov.
Phreaking is when identity thieves tap into wireless connections from cell phones. They can do this simply by walking past you on the street.
Pharming involves door to door solicitation scams. Asphalt pavers offering to do your driveway is a popular scam in the south. The pavers will offer to pave a driveway with leftover asphalt from a street job. They will take the money and leave a very thin layer of asphalt. They will come back, and offer to do more work, but they will keep charging for each service. The same type of thing has been done by roofers.
Calls and visits from people saying there are with medicare is a way unethical insurance salesman prey on seniors.
Foreign lotteries are illegal. “If you didn’t enter, you can’t win,” said Brodbeck.
Credit cards offer a variety of ways for thieves to take of advantage of you. Remember to use secure websites when shopping online, and beware of people with camera phones. A quick picture of your credit card by a thief can help them shop online with your credit card too.
Be aware of hotel room cards. Some hotels will store your personal information, which can be accessed by those magnetic strips. Don’t leave them behind or unattended.
Brodbeck suggests checking your credit report up to three times a year. He warns that you should only check it directly from the three main agencies, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Each will allow you to check them once for free each year, making it easy for you to check your credit about every four months. If you are suspicious about any activity on your report, you can put out a fraud alert. You may also want to check your children’s reports to make sure no one is ruining their credit.
The websites for the main credit report agencies are www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.
Brodbeck had the same advice when he was the guest speaker for the Rotary Club the day before. He is available to speak for any organization. He can be reached at The Better Business Bureau office in Ridgeland.
The Morning Call Chamber breakfast is a monthly event sponsored by the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce. The event gives members an opportunity to network. This Wednesday’s breakfast was held at Magnolia Columns Banquet Hall in downtown Picayune.
Members are also offered a chance to speak briefly about upcoming projects. Member Paulette Egler spoke about her “Pet Project” at Wednesday’s event and offered fellow members a challenge. As advocate for the S.P.C.A., Egler is trying to raise funds for the shelter to get a new location. The group is looking to purchase Dino’s Corvette Salvage on Highway 43N. According to research by the group, the 10,000 square foot building on 6.3 acres would be a perfect location. The S.P.C.A. has found an anonymous benefactor who is willing to match any funds donated by Chamber members dollar for dollar up to $100,000. The group needs to reach it’s goal by April. In closing, Egler offered up this quote, “We make our living by what we earn. We make our life by what we give.”
The next ‘Morning Call’ will take place in March.