Keep your identity safe this holiday season

HATTIESBURG, Miss - Mississippi ranked 18th in the U.S. for identity theft, with the holiday shopping coming up, consumers need to keep their identity secure.

It only takes three seconds for a thief to steal your identity. In those three seconds your personal information is at risk. Forrest County Sheriff McGee talks about the increase of identity theft in Hattiesburg.

"The card identity theft is usually from the individual giving his card number to a person who is not reputable, they would call on the phone with some scam that they need information to clear up some type of misunderstanding."

Bank Manager, Carlos Brown of Citizens National Bank says, "We see a lot of theft, just mail theft, you may have a check in your mailbox and someone may steal that envelope and make a duplicate copy of that check."

Out of 12 million cases in 2015 about 3 million were elderly victims. Brown says, "Some people are more suspecible of giving their information over the phone, they think they have their best intentions at heart, but they really don't."

Fortunately both law enforcement and businesses are taking precaution to keep Pinebelt residents safe.

"We find out that it is nonexistant and its definitely a scam and the state works on it on their end and the Federal government works on it on their end too." Sheriff McGee says.

Brown further states, "Through montoring services, the customer is alerted if there is anything suspicious on their credit report or if any inquiries have been pulled."

Some last minute advice before giving your information out is to be aware that banks and credit card companies have a more formal approach when discussing personal information. Also, Brown mentions to be aware that every vendor is vulnerable to being breached.

If you think you are a victim of identity theft you can go to and report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission.

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