Headlines Cont. – 8/11/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – August 11, 2006


Slick scammers call seeking credit card’s security code
JACKSON – Mississippi Consumers need to be aware of a credit card scam being reported across the United States. "The scam is slick because the callers appear to be giving information to you," said Attorney General Jim Hood." They do not ask for your card number because they have already obtained it. What they are seeking is the security code on the back of your credit card. By understanding how the credit card scam works, you’ll be better prepared to protect yourself."

Here is an example of how the scam works:

You receive a call from someone posing as they are from "VISA," or "MasterCard." The person calling says, "this is (name), and I’m calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I’m calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name) bank. Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?"

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When you say "No," the caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?"

You say "yes." The caller continues… "I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1-800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control # (The caller then gives you a 6-digit number.) "Do you need me to read it again?"

Here’s the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller then says, "he needs to verify you are in possession of your card." He’ll ask you to "turn your card over and look for some numbers. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are your card number, the next 3 are the ‘Security Numbers’ that verify you are in possession of the card. These are the numbers you use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. Read me the 3 numbers."

After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he’ll say, "That is correct. I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?"

After you say No, the caller then Thanks you and states, "Don’t hesitate to call back if you do," and hangs up.

"The information the scammer wants is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of your card," said Attorney General Hood. "This allows them to make internet purchases with your card. To protect yourself, never give this number to anyone calling for it, especially when you did not initiate the call. Instead, tell them you’ll call the credit card company directly."

County relying on ‘piece of truck’ to keep pace with summer paving
By Billy Davis

Panola County’s aggressive summer paving plan has slowed to a trickle while the road department awaits a part for its asphalt machine and delivery of a tar truck, road manager Lygunnah Bean said this week.

The missing part is holding up the repaving of Good Hope Road, the last county road slated for a new asphalted surface this year.

While a paving crew waits to finish Good Hope, Bean said the road department is using a "piece of a truck" to begin its second phase of summer paving while it awaits the new truck later this month.

The second phase involves the use of DBST, a process that uses white rock mixed with an oil base to form a hard surface.

DBST is the more familiar and cheaper method of road paving and resurfacing in the county, but supervisors altered their paving plans this summer in favor of asphalting 28 miles of high-traffic roads.
Bean said Panola County has spent about $1.3 million of a total $1.5 million that was budgeted for the asphalt work on Curtis, Dummy Line, Black Jack and Good Hope roads, and a portion of Hwy. 310 east of Como.

District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant said supervisors will spend about three quarters of their paving budget on the newly asphalted roads.

"The hot mix for the asphalt costs so much, and since these are State Aid roads, they have to be done to State Aid specs," Avant said, referring to the division of the Miss. Department of Transportation.

The repaving of Eureka Road in recent weeks was part of the county’s cooperation with the State Aid program. Supervisors gathered last December to choose Good Hope and the other list of roads.

Bean said the asphalt costs about $50,000 a mile, meaning five-mile-long Good Hope will cost about $250,000 to round out the asphalt work.

About 30 miles of county roads will be paved in the coming weeks using DBST, the road manager said.
DBST costs about $19,500 per mile paved and $7,300 per mile resealed, figures from 2005 paving show.

Asked by The Panolian for a list of the DBST roads, Bean said he is "holding off" on releasing the list until he can plan the paving work with an eye on budget monies and the calendar.

"The list is coming, just not yet," Bean said.

Panola County’s road department paved 44.5 miles of county roads last summer and sealed 28 more as part of the yearly summer ritual. The total cost to taxpayers was about $1.2 million.

Boys and Girls Clubs need volunteers
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Mississippi are looking for volunteers interested in sharing some quality time with youth ages 6 – 16.

Needed at the clubs in Sardis and Batesville are chess players, golfers, tennis players, tutors, mentors and homework helpers.

Also needed are hosts for monthly birthday parties and honor roll parties and people to serve on an advisory committee. For more information contact Belinda Morris at 578-7309.

Sardis mayor says tax increase possible to catch up with past
By Jason C. Mattox

Citing a "dumb move" in past years, city officials in Sardis are contemplating a tax increase as they begin working on a budget for fiscal year 2007.

The biggest topic of discussion at the August 8, budget meeting was an increase in ad valorem taxes.

"We are still nearly four mills lower than 1989," said City Clerk Odessa Johnson, citing the relatively low tax rate in the city.

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye told his colleagues the city should never have lowered the tax rate in ?89.

"That was a dumb move to lower the tax rate then," he said. "Now we will have to raise taxes to get somewhere near where we were over 15 years ago."

Johnson told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen there would be additional revenues for the upcoming budget including $48,000 in rent and royalties from Steelmatic, Inc., a potential 10-percent tax increase, and $49,000 in contractual services.

"By having Steelmatic in the old Air Kontrol Building, you won’t be responsible for the full amount of the payment," Johnson said.

The city will still be responsible for $22,000 of the $70,000 total payment.

The 10 percent tax increase would generate $30,000 in revenue for the city.

On the upcoming expenses for the new budget year, the city is responsible for an additional $92,000 in police salaries.

"Our COPS grant has expired and we are responsible for those salaries," Dye said. "We are constantly looking for other grants, and when we can reapply for the COPS grant."

The COPS Universal Hiring Program is a federal program that provides up to 75 percent of the total cost of salary and benefits of each new officer over a period of three years. State or local funds pick up the remaining 25 percent.

In addition to the police salaries, an increase in fuel costs must also be budgeted.

"We don’t know how much the cost of fuel will go up during the next year, but we need to prepare for it as best we can," Dye said.

Johnson also asked city leaders to consider what they wanted to do about temporary employees Billy Smith and Robert Earl Wilkie.

Smith and Wilkie are both retired city employees who work on a temporary basis. Smith has been working with public works director Billy Bright while Wilkie has been serving as the city’s building inspector.

"We have other employees who can do these jobs now, and you need to decide if you want to keep them around or not," she said.

No final decisions were made, but a second meeting to discuss the budget has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 15 at 5 p.m.


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