Identity theft is something we often here about here in the wiregrass. Now authorities say this problem is getting worse and worse, as more and more people coming forward after realizing that money is being withdrawn from their accounts in other parts of the U.S., and sometimes overseas.
“I couldn't believe that it happened, especially to me, I mean you hear about things like this, but never to you," said Demetrius Hartfield.
Hartfield is a victim of identity theft. Several days ago he noticed various charges made to the debit card he has with Regions Bank. Some of the charges were made in states in the Southwestern United States; places he says he has not been to.
"We had a couple for Southwest Airlines which looked like airplane tickets; we had a couple of charges at a Walgreens in Arizona," said Hartfield.
To make matters worst, another Regions Bank customer also noticed odd charges; some that were made at the same locations in Arizona and Las Vegas. Authorities are still having a difficult time figuring out who is behind the thefts, because in the past month Mr. Hartfield and the other bank customer have not used their debit cards at common locations.
"It could be somebody inside; something like that just seems too odd to be a coincidence," said Officer Alan Souders, of the Dothan Police Dept.
Authorities are urging people to protect themselves against identity thieves. Some easy ways to keep yourself from being victimized are as follows: first, when you use you debit card to pay at a restaurant, try to keep an eye on your waiter or waitress when they take it to make the transaction; second, use obvious passwords like you birthday; third, never click on links sent in unsolicited emails, allegedly sent by a bank.
As for Mr. Hartfield, officials with regions bank are refunding the almost five thousand dollars he has lost, making the bank a victim of identity theft as well.
If you feel that you are the victim of identity theft you can contact the Dothan Police Department to file a report, and obtain information on different credit agencies that you can contact to try and salvage your money. The number to call is (334) 615-3000.