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|Use caution at sports games|
In just over a month, thousands of LSU fans will be headed to different tailgaiting spots on the campus, getting pumped up for another Saturday night in Baton Rouge (OK, more than likely a Saturday afternoon).
This is not a column with recipe tips or the best way to get to the game or even the best way to pass the time.
It's a lot more serious than that.
Never mind what LSU is going to be ranked going into the 2009 season. Or where Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss will be sitting in the various polls. There's one statistic a lot more haunting.
According to the US Secret Service, an identity theft gang is preying on LSU fans and generated about $50,000 last year. These criminals pickpocket fans, taking their wallets and creating fake ID's.
The next stop is a visit to their banks to drain the victim's accounts, according to LifeLock, an identity theft protection aid. Sports enthusiasts should be particularly aware of the risks because with a sleight-of-hand, pickpockets of days past would typically steal a wallet or purse, take the cash and ditch the rest of the wallet.
Today's thieves may still take the cash, but are focused on things worth much more like social security numbers and personal information, which can be used to perpetrate identity theft.
Tammy McNeely, director of corporate communications for LifeLock, said in this day and time, fans have to be a lot more cautious.
"It really surprises me how blatant some people have become," McNeely said. "To pick someone's pocket is very brave because you have a higher chance of getting caught. But, then again, at an event such as an LSU football crowd, it would be easy to et lost in the crowd. People are turning to whatever they can with the economy we are in. There are a lot of people trying to make ends meet with band intentions."
McNeely's top recommendation to LSU fans is not to have your Social Security Card or driver's license in your wallet.
"Limit the amount of personal information you carry with you," she said.
So have a good time out there. But be wary. You never know what might be lurking around the next tailgate party.