Locals banks teaming up to combat identity theft

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 23, 2008

NATCHEZ — There is an old saying that everyone has a twin. Usually the saying refers to a physical resemblance, but local experts say that increasing number incidents of identity theft worldwide makes the saying all too real.

The best thing for people to do, according to experts, to defend themselves against the terrifying crime is to be educated in it. And that is why six locals banks have joined forces to host an educational seminar about identity theft.

The Miss-Lou Banking Alliance, made up of representatives from Concordia Bank and Trust, Tensas Bank, Delta Bank, United Mississippi Bank, Regions and Britton & Koontz Bank, is having three seminars on Dec. 4 in the multipurpose room in the Redd-Watkins Vocational-Technical Center at Co-Lin Natchez.

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Sessions will be at 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. No registration is required to attend.

“We don’t want to scare anyone. The purpose isn’t to create fear,” said Curtis Moroney, an IT specialist with Britton & Koontz Bank and a member of the alliance. “There is no telling what they are doing or what is going to be next. You can’t be too careful.

“We are trying to educate people on what to look for and how to be safe.”

All three sessions, which should last about 90-minutes will present the same information.

The bank representatives will present lectures on banking regulations, computer use as it relates to fraud and identity theft, safe use of credit cards, debit cards and checks, telephone and mail scams, social engineering — people trying to gather personal information through different avenues and what victims of identity theft should do.

Moroney said it is important to cover as much information as possible because identity thieves are always changing their methods.

“No one is immune and no one is particularly targeted either,” he said. “It has nothing to do with a person’s background. It covers all races, all religions, all ages and both genders.

“Everyone can get taken.”

He also stressed that the purpose of the seminar is to educate the community, not promote the individual banks.

“We got together because we knew we needed to do provide education on this topic. It is about the community not the banks,” Moroney said. “We won’t have booths set up or anything like that.”

At the seminars, the information presented will be user-friendly.

“There are common sense things that people need to know and use day-to-day,” Moroney said. “It is ok to use credit and debit cards, and it is ok to shop on-line, you just have to be careful.”

He said one of the most important steps people can take to protect themselves is to not give out personal information — addresses, Social Security Numbers or account numbers — to anyone.

Moroney said that while he doesn’t believe identity theft is widespread in the Miss-Lou, it is important to stay well informed.

“It is a non-stop world,” he said. “The things we were doing to protect ourselves five, 10, 15 years ago don’t work anymore.”