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Jackson Woman Says Clerk Wiped Out Her Bank Account While Christmas Shopping

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.- One local woman claims a Jackson store clerk cleaned out all her bank accounts after she made some holiday purchases in a store, Wednesday.

Police said Dana Etghayi became a victim of identity theft after she was asked to hand over her drivers license and debit card for a purchase, Wednesday. At this time, police are not releasing the name of the store due to their ongoing investigation.

"I went into a store and made a purchase and as I was doing the purchase the woman at the register said it's not going through," said Etghayi. "She said she needed my ID and my debit card, well at that point it went through and I left with my purchase. A couple of days later my card has been used multiple times for over $1500 worth of things."

Police said Etghayhi's bank account was wiped clean. She showed WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News a recent copy of her bank statements which showed several hundred dollars worth of purchases made by the store spanning several days after her visit on Wednesday.

"I mean they took everything, they drained my bank account and the company can't tell me where the charges were done or how my bank card was used and it wasn't a credit card, it was my personal bank account," said Etghayi.

According to the Federal Trade Commission more than 12.6 million Americans fell victim to identity theft crimes last year alone, resulting in more than $21 billion in damages. Police said around the holidays, thieves have the opportunity to access personal information with online shopping and holiday purchases.

"If your debit card doesn't go through that's a sign right there so go to the ATM and pull cash out and just go and get your purchase that way," said Etghayi. "It's a holiday season, nobody should have to go through this."

Tips to keep your money save from the Identity Crimes Unit include:

* When paying by credit card, do not allow clerks to put your receipts in your bag. Instead, carry receipts in your wallet where they are safer and less likely to fall out of bags.

* Watch cashiers, waiters, and bartenders, ensuring that they do not save your card number for later use.

* When paying by check. Never allow merchants to write your social security number on the check.

* Use a gel ink pen -- preferably black -- to write checks. The ink will permeate the fibers and make it difficult for the check to be cleaned and reused.

* When shopping online, be careful of wireless internet connections. Only use those that require a security key or certificate.

* Shop on secure, reputable websites by looking for addresses that start with "https" and include a small padlock icon.

* Never offer personal information, especially your social security number, to online stores.

* Leave suspicious websites immediately.

* Read customer reviews before ordering products.

* Use a credit card and not a debit card, which makes it harder for you to get funds back and gives thieves access to funds in your bank account. Jackson Police said if possible use a pre-paid card that does not link back to your personal account.

* Avoid carrying a social security card, birth certificate, passport, bank information or paychecks when hitting the stores. You could easily lose them and identity thieves find these particularly helpful.

* Check your bank statements, credit card bills, and credit reports often, helping to quickly catch any efforts to use your identity.


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