D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of South Mississippians stopped by the D'Iberville Walmart Saturday to drop off bags of old documents to get shredded. The state attorney general's office puts on events like this throughout the state in hopes of protecting people from becoming a victim of identity theft and to raise awareness about the problem.
"We get calls almost daily, we've opened 50 or 60 files already this year on felony level identity theft cases," Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward said. "Unlike having your car broken into, it's a one time event it's over with that day, identity theft can last days, weeks, months and years."
Victims can have a tough time getting their name cleared, but the state attorney general's office works with law enforcement to help.
"We are able to give to creditors, banks and other things that can help you regain your identity and it is a long, long term process," Ward said.
That is why Ward stresses it is important to do everything you can to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
"Always destroy your bank statements, tax returns, anything you may put in the garbage," Ward said. "Also there's really no need these days to have your social security card in your wallet or purse."
Lisa Ferrell who came to the event said she takes extra precautions with her mail and any other sensitive documents after her husband's bank account was compromised and it took them months to straighten it out.
Ferrell said, "I just make sure the word VOID is written all over it when I throw a credit card it never goes in the same garbage bag it goes in four or five different bags in tiny pieces, if you are going to put it together you are going to work to find it."
Being cautious like that is how Ward said is the best way to protect yourself. If you think you have become a victim of identity theft you should call 1-800-281-4418.