The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Neuharth Center on the USD campus. President Mercy Hobbs called the meeting to order and Rev. Ed Nesselhuf gave the invocation.
Four seniors from Vermillion High School were introduced as guests. They were: Dan Redlin, Chris Merrigan, Anthony Rath and Matt Riviere. Other guests were Jim Powers and Randall Beck.
Members were reminded to bring food items or cash contributions for the Food Shelf next week. Rotarians were also reminded of the Chili Cook-off on March 14 at the Wagner Center at 6 p.m.
Rotarian Art Mabry introduced the program on "Identity Theft" presented by Detective Crystal Brady and Officer Jason Amdahl of the Vermillion Police Department.
Detective Brady began by stating that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world today. Even in a small community like Vermillion they have seen a significant increase from one case reported in 2003 to 13 cases reported in 2005. Identity theft is committed when a person obtains personal information of another with the intent to deceive or defraud. For the thief it is a low-risk, high-reward crime. Most victims are unaware of the theft until it is too late.
As of last year there were 10 million victims total or 19 victims per minute. Eighty-five percent of victims only find out when they are denied credit or receive a notice from their credit card company. Identity theft affects people of all age groups and income levels. Surveys show that only about 30 percent of victims file a complaint. Anyone who suspects they are victims is urged to contact their local police department.
Thieves begin by obtaining Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth and even bank account numbers from sources such as discarded trash, computer files, or discarded information from service providers. With this information they can obtain drivers licenses, open accounts, or get loans and start spending. Victims should call the three credit bureaus, request a copy of their credit report, alert banks and creditors, contact the Social Security Administration and call police to file a report.
Some preventive measures might be to get a free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com and to buy a shredder to shred bank statements and other sensitive documents which are no longer needed. Other measures could include using non-obvious passwords, making wireless routers more secure and contacting computer equipment manufacturers to make equipment more secure.
Local police departments have information available to assist in safeguarding personal information and reporting crimes. The two officers concluded their presentation by taking questions from the audience.