This month, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Treasury and regional financial institutions to address and combat the issue of identity theft.

The problem is widespread: In 2007 alone, 60,000 federal benefit checks-amounting to$160 million-were fraudulently endorsed. Seniors are particularly affected by this growing problem, making up 37 percent of all fraud victims. In order to remove checks from the mail system, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department encourages the use of Direct Deposit and Direct Express, which both bypass the problems presented with physical checks that must be signed and taken to banks.

The department will be offering tips such as this, plus other crime prevention strategies, during presentations throughout the county. They occur on:

• Monday, February 9, time TBA, at the Orcutt Community Center

• Wednesday, February 11, 11:15 a.m., at the Lompoc Senior Center

• Tuesday, February 17, 11 a.m., at the Goleta Valley Community Center

For more information, call 571-1540 or visit Also, visit and for additional information on Direct Deposit and Direct Express.


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