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HINEVILLE, Ga. – Underscoring the state’s crackdown on identity theft, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker has singled out a Hinesville credit union, Fort Stewart Georgia Federal Credit Union, for helping ID theft victims and urged other Georgia financial institutions to follow the CU’s lead. “We really appreciate the support we’ve received from Fort Stewart, particularly in helping military members of the military who find themselves in a very difficult position trying to clear their name at home while serving our country in Iraq,” said a spokesman for the AG. The $62 million Fort Stewart served as sponsor Sept. 18 of an all-day “Financial Crimes Awareness & Prevention Workshop” on the Fort Stewart Army base in Hinesville at which Baker spoke, and was joined by an array of top law enforcement brass from across the state. Represented at the CU session were executives from the FBI, Georgia Department of Investigation, Social Security Administration, Savannah and Hinesville police and the Army’s Judge Advocate unit. Like other CUs across the U.S. working to combat identity theft, the Hinesville CU said it decided to hold the workshop at the request of local police. Once arrangements were made, Baker, the state AG, who has long been a vocal advocate of tough anti-theft laws, including recently enacted statutes in Georgia, was invited. “We’ve always done what we can to counsel our base military personnel and their families regarding how to deal with this growing problem of identity theft when it does occur,” said Elaine Tuten, president of Fort Stewart Georgia FCU. The CU, she said, was more than willing to sponsor the workshop following a request made by Cpl. Albert Jeffcoat of the Savannah police. “We have long worked with Corporal Jeffcoat, who is a friend of credit unions, on identity theft problems particularly in helping train our employees on security issues,” said Lisa Cebolla, regional manager of Fort Stewart’s Hinesville branch. The Attorney General spokesman said it was heartening to his boss that the Hinesville CU was willing to participate in the state’s “Stop Identity Theft Network” as the CU acted partly in self-interest “since as we know financial institutions are the ones who eventually eat the losses from this kind of crime.” There is always sympathy for the victims, but the upshot of the fraud is that CUs and banks “suffer the losses.” The AG spokesman noted that the Hinesville workshop was one of seven held as part of a statewide road show over the last year and continuing in 2004 but most have been held on college and university campus or in law enforcement offices. The Fort Stewart workshop was the first one sponsored by a CU, said the AG. Also on hand in Hinesville were John Smith, director of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Office for Consumer Affairs, Andrea Foster, Southeast director for the Federal Trade Commission, and Tryllis Haliford, Consumer Advocate for the Georgia Secretary of State. Until the AG campaign began, Georgia was “in the top 10″ in the country on identity theft, but now the state has dropped several pegs, underscoring the success of the program, said the spokesman. During the CU workshop day in Hinesville, the AG and law enforcement execs spent time at lunch with Tuten, the FSGFCU president, its chairman, Eddie Rogers, a retired government auditor, and other CU managers to discuss ID theft programs at Fort Stewart. “We have found that our military personnel are under attack from identity thieves not only because of the positions that you hold in our national security system, but also because of the personal information that you carry on a daily basis,” Baker told the CU workshop. “We know it is important to tackle this problem head on, ” said the AG, ” so that we may protect those who protect us.” -

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