(Hinesville, GA) Today Attorney General Thurbert Baker and The Stop Identity Theft Network hosted a Town Hall Meeting at Ft. Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield to discuss the growing epidemic of Identity Theft. Over a hundred concerned servicemen and women attended the Town Hall Meeting to discuss ways to prevent identity theft and recent trends among these thieves. Joining Attorney General Baker and The Stop Identity Theft Network were District Attorney Spencer Lawton, Chief Judge Gregory Fowler, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate Lt.Colonel Stephen Berg, Bob Brand of Cox Communications, Tom Caul of United States Office of the Inspector General’s Office and John Ford of Equifax. Steve Edwards from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, John Smith of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, Thomas Cribbs of the Hinesville Police Department and Captain Larry Branson of the Savannah Police Department also participated in the panel.
Members of the armed services may be more susceptible than the general public to identity theft. Because our military personnel move on a regular basis, they are forced to have bank, credit and other accounts in more than one state. Additionally, servicemen and women carry personal information, such as their social security number, with them at all times. If military personnel are overseas or far away from family members, their reliance on credit cards, automatic teller machines, and other remote-access financial services increases. All of these factors add to the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Identity Theft is the fastest growing consumer crime in the state and in the country. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission reported that over 4,700 Georgians were victims of identity theft. In 2001, Georgia was ranked 7th in the country for the number of identity theft complaints filed. In 2002, Georgia’s ranking dropped to 13th.