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Seminar tackles identity theft

Auburn Police officer tells how not to be a victim
By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
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When someone calls you, don't give them information over the phone ” ever. You will never win the Canadian Lottery ” there isn't one. Shred everything, even your junk mail. This is just some of the advice that Sgt. Dale Hutchins of the Auburn Police Department offered to community members during a luncheon seminar Wednesday on how not become a victim of identity theft. Identity theft is the fastest -growing crime in the country, Hutchins said. It takes a lot of time and resources to solve just one case. It costs a victim of identity theft about $1,500 and six months to get their credit back to normal, he said. Hutchins told the audience of about 20 that gathered at Kathmandu Kitchen in Auburn of a real case involving an Auburn man in his 80s who fell prey to the Canadian Lottery scam. It cost him $80,000 when it was all said and done, Hutchins said. The man was notified of the winnings and asked to pay an export fee of $2,500 to be sent to an address in Canada by Western Union. Next there was a customs fee followed by more fees and more money being sent out of the country. Once the money is sent, it can be intercepted with the routing code anywhere in the world, Hutchins said. His was picked up in Russia. Someone in Russia is $80,000 richer. Kathleen Moore attended the joint seminar co-sponsored by Wachovia Securities. She said she'd heard a lot of the information before, however, she was surprised at the rate the crime is increasing. The fact that it's a growing crime and there are few repercussions is amazing, she said. It's a relevant topic and we should all be educated. With identity theft there is no direct contact with the victim and no weapon used. In most cases it's straight theft and often a misdemeanor. Hutchins suggested checking credit reports every six months and if you become a victim of identity theft to file a police report with local law enforcement, notify all credit card companies, banks and credit reporting bureaus. He emphasized not releasing any personal information to anyone who calls “ ever. The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at penneu@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment on auburnjournal.com.