Womanpleads guilty to ID theft

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

An Opp resident recently pled guilty to identity theft in Covington County Circuit Court to a pair of charges, according to a news release from Covington County Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Gambril.

Dianna Lynn Norris, 45, appeared before Circuit Court Judge Ashley McKathan and pled guilty to Identity Theft in the first degree and Theft of Property in the first degree.

Norris received concurrent sentences of 15 and 20 years respectively on the two charges and she was also ordered to pay $12,927.61 in restitution to a local bank.

According to Gambril, Norris moved from North Carolina to Opp.

"Ever since moving to Opp (Norris) has held herself to be another individual," said Gambril. "Before coming here, she was able to obtain from a boyfriend his ex-girlfriend's Social Security card. Ms. Norris told police that, with this Social Security card, she was able to obtain a birth certificate and a marriage license in the victim's name while in North Carolina."

Gambril stated that, once she moved to Opp, Norris with her false identification was able to open two bank accounts, obtain credit cards, enroll in school and obtain medical and dental services.

"She was able to do all of these things because she was able to provide our local people with what appeared to be valid identification," said Gambril.

During this time, according to Gambril, Norris ran up a large negative balance in one of the checking accounts and charged thousands of dollars on one of the credit cards that she had no intention of paying back.

"She even lied to the police about her identity when they attempted to question her," said Gambril.

Gambril said identity theft is becoming an increasingly common problem.

"I strongly advise every individual to be protective about all of their personal identifying information," said Gambril "There are so many ways that a perpetrator can take advantage of someone with just a mere tidbit of personal information. In this case, all the defendant needed was a Social Security card to wreak havoc on an innocent person's credit history."

Gambril provided some tips on how to protect oneself from identity theft.

"You should never give out personal information to a stranger, especially over the phone, unless you initiated the call," said Gambril. "If someone makes an offer to you over the phone that you're interested in, have them send you information in the mail so you can better check out its authenticity. Don't ever freely give out your Social Security Number, credit card numbers, drivers license numbers, birthdate and other password type information."

Gambril said it is important to shred old checks and other documents bearing personal identifying information that people are throwing into the trash.

"(Identity theft) could happen to any one of us at any time," said Gambril. "These people are getting craftier everyday, which means we must all be responsible and remain ever vigilant."

If you ever are the victim of identity theft, you should immediately contact the police, credit reporting agencies, banks, the local post office, the social security administration and creditors. You can also call the toll-free ID Theft hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).