Bank to put on identity theft seminar

Identity theft isn’t just common, it’s to be expected.

That’s according to Jeff Byrd, assistant vice president and business development manager at Mohave State Bank in Yuma. To help consumers stay aware of the rapidly growing threat of identity theft – and to avoid it – Mohave State Bank will hold several free ID theft seminars next week.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when you’ll be hit with ID theft in today’s society,” Byrd said.

The presentations will be on April 5, with video presentations followed by question and answer sessions. Kristine Novinskie from ID Theft Shield and Kroll Fraud Solutions will be the presenting expert.

Her presentation includes a review of the five types of identity theft: criminal/character, medical, driver’s license, employment and financial.

Criminal identity theft can get an innocent person arrested for something somebody else did under their name. Medical identity theft can get somebody treated with unnecessary or even harmful medications at a hospital.

And financial identity theft isn’t what people think it is, Novinskie said: It’s actually the taking of somebody’s identity to open accounts in their name. Using an existing account – stealing somebody’s credit card information and going on a spending spree – is fraud, not ID theft.

Another topic will be ID theft’s biggest, yet littlest, victims: children. Novinskie said children are five times more likely to be victims of identity theft.

Byrd said it’s especially frustrating to see criminals go after kids. They’re easy pickings because they must leave the hospital as newborns with Social Security numbers, even though they’re not likely to use or check on their numbers for many years. He related one story about a 7-year-old girl who is already $200,000 in bogus credit card debt.

Byrd said he also knows a local businessman whose ordeal was with criminal identity theft. He was not only “guilty” of crimes he’d never committed out of state, but he had since “died.”

“He came into my office one day and another bank had basically asked him to leave,” Byrd said. “He said, ‘Can you help me? I just got kicked out of a bank.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m dead.’”

Byrd said with ID theft, you’re guilty until proved innocent. A victim has to clear his own name and all-important credit report, which takes time. Novinskie said that can take months or years.

She said when the bank put on these seminars last year, a good-sized crowd turned out. “People are interested in it because they know it’s a problem.”

Call 344-8822 to reserve a seminar seat.

Hillary Davis can be reached at or 539-6857.

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