Archive for September, 2013

Here’s how college students can prevent identity theft

Monday, September 30th, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C –

Consumer experts are warning college students they are the fastest-growing group being targeted for identity theft. And there are a bunch of reasons why.

The Better Business Bureau tells WNCN students aren’t monitoring their credit card statements like older folks do and they take longer to report fraud. That means the loss is much bigger.

The BBB said identity theft committed against people age 18 to 24 took about four months on average to detect. The average student lost more than $1,000, Which is roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups.

The experts have these tips for students to fight this trend:

1) Send sensitive mail to a parent’s home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.

2) Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes a Social Security card, passport and bank statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.

3) Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates to your computer’s operating system or browser software, which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.

4) Always check your credit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you will suffer in the long run.

Article source: http://www.wncn.com/story/23560812/identity-theft-targets-college-students-at-high-rate

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Attorney General DeWine Announces First-Year Update on Identity Theft Unit

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that in its first year, the Identity Theft Unit of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section received more than 600 complaints and helped to adjust approximately $250,000 in disputed charges for victims, according to information provided in complaints.

“We created the Identity Theft Unit to help individuals fix problems they couldn’t solve on their own,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We know that the recovery process for identity theft victims is often long and frustrating. We want to do all we can to help.”

In September 2012, Attorney General DeWine announced the creation of an Identity Theft Unit within the office’s Consumer Protection Section. The Identity Theft Unit helps victims correct problems typically associated with identity theft by working with creditors, collectors, credit reporting agencies, law enforcement, and others on their behalf.

Commonly reported problems to the Identity Theft Unit include:

  • Fraudulently opened accounts – This occurs when an imposter uses a victim’s personal information to open accounts in the victim’s name. Consumers can help identify potential fraudulent charges by checking their credit reports at www.AnnualCreditReport.com for free each year.
  • Tax identity theft – Tax identity theft can occur at the state and federal level and has become more common since direct deposit began. Consumers can help protect themselves by filing their taxes early and researching a tax preparer’s reputation.
  • Family member identity theft – While any type of identity theft can be devastating, discovering a family member is responsible for the theft can increase the emotional toll on the victim. In these instances, the Identity Theft Unit focuses on resolving the accounts and protecting the victim’s credit files.

One consumer who cleared up a fraudulently opened loan with the assistance of the Identity Theft Unit said, “The work they’ve put into this has been unbelievable. I think people really take notice of the letterhead of the Attorney General’s Office.”

Another consumer who received help with a case of mistaken identity said of the Identity Theft Unit, “I really don’t know what I would have done without it.”

Individuals can choose between the Traditional Assistance Program, where an advocate works on the victim’s behalf, and the Self Help Program, where victims receive a guide to correcting the problems on their own. For Traditional Assistance, victims must file a police report.

 

Source: Ohio Attorney General’s Office

Article source: http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/midwest/2013/09/30/237538.htm

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Beware of health-insurance ID-theft scams, state warns

Monday, September 30th, 2013

State officials and consumer groups are warning about an expected surge in identity-theft scams to begin with the Oct. 1 launch of the state’s online health-insurance exchange, the Washington Healthplanfinder.

“I think we will see a shift in the kinds of medical identity theft to now include people who get a call offering an opportunity to sign up for the Affordable Care Act,” said Lisa Erwin, senior counsel with the Office of the Attorney General.

According to Erwin, no cases have emerged yet. “But we will see the traditional scams operated in this new arena,” she said. “We’ll see false advertising. We’ll see people telling you that you need to sign up for something that you don’t need. We’ll see people impersonating being a navigator.” A navigator is a person who is trained and certified to help people use the exchange.

Mary Wood, manager of the eligibility section of the Washington Health Care Authority, which manages Medicaid in the state, shares Erwin’s concern.

“I have an elderly mother folks have preyed upon,” Wood said. “So I worry that with so much hype in the media and with all of us going out and talking about it that it would be easy for someone to just call someone else up and say, ‘I can help you with Healthplanfinder and you just have to share some basic information.’ I could see an individual being confused by that.”

While the exchange hasn’t attracted identity thieves yet, scammers have been operating nationally for a long time. James Quiggle, director of communications with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, an advocacy organization, said consumers should expect them to move into this new territory of opportunity.

“They’ve signed up people for bogus insurance products and have stolen thousands of dollars from victims,” Quiggle said. “The concern is whether this same crooked marketing mentality will lead to malicious [operations] designed solely to steal people’s financial information and identities. People are very confused about what health-care reform means to their lives and how they are going to need to sign up for coverage.”

Christine Arevalo, director of health-care identity management at ID Experts, a consulting firm, warns that in addition to fraudulent websites and email phishing scams, criminals will likely also resort to old-fashioned techniques.

“There have been reports of people calling, the old traditional phone scam,” she says. “The bottom line really is these are crimes of opportunity, so any time there is something happening in the marketplace that affects consumers and creates an element of confusion, they’re going to take the opportunity to prey on people.”

With a consumer’s Social Security number in health-insurance policy information, she said, scammers can do anything from impersonating someone to get needed care to participating in organized crime rings setting up false fronts.

As a result, consumers whose identities are stolen may find their claims turned down when they go for care. And, of course, if scammers get a Social Security number or bank information, they may drain a person’s accounts or open new accounts in the person’s name.

Patrick Marshall is a technology freelance writer in Seattle. This story was produced through a partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Article source: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021929192_acascamsxml.html

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Ask A Trooper: Keep eye out for ID theft

Monday, September 30th, 2013

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This information comes to me from the Hamburg Senior Center, where I was recently invited to give a presentation on identity theft. In our discussions, I was asked if I had heard of credit card numbers being stolen with just the use of a wand.

I know Halloween will soon be here, but when I heard this, I couldn’t believe it was even possible. Seriously, a wand waves over your back pocket and, shazam, someone has stolen your credit card number without your wallet even leaving your pocket. After doing some research, I have found that it is possible to steal credit card information in this manner.

Credit card companies have recently come out with a “paypass” system to identity cards. These are “contactless cards.” The cards use a radio frequency identification, or RFID, chip. An RFID card can generally be identified by four curved lines on the front of the credit card. According to an industry newsletter, there are approximately 35 million RFID cards in service.

The manner in which credit card thieves steal this information is to connect a battery-powered card reader to a netbook-type device, which is concealed in another container such as a briefcase or backpack. The thief then carries the container close to a person’s purse or pocket, where contactless cards might be carried. The information is captured from the credit card, stored on the thief’s computer, and the thief uses the information to clone a credit card.

I know what you’re thinking: What can I do to protect myself? Financial institutions provide card covers that protect against the RFID signals being scanned. Consumers can also ask for cards that do not have an RFID device. A wallet lined with aluminum foil and duct tape may also help prevent against a thief scanning the signal from a card.

The most important thing people should do is always be aware of their surroundings. Trust your instincts if someone or something doesn’t seem right. You may be correct, and you should take appropriate action to protect yourself and your identity.

Fall has arrived, and it seems that white-tailed deer are on the move again. Drivers should be prepared for the possibility of deer crossing the roadway.

A few suggestions to help drivers and passengers in their vehicles survive a car-deer crash. Everybody in a vehicle should be wearing their seatbelts, and drivers need to stay alert especially at dawn and dusk. Drivers, do not swerve out of a lane to avoid a deer. Instead, brake firmly and in a straight line. It is usually safer to hit the deer then to run off the road or strike another vehicle.



“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” — President John F. Kennedy.

Article source: http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20130929/OPINION02/309290026/Ask-Trooper-Keep-eye-out-ID-theft

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Identity theft targeting college students

Monday, September 30th, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C –

Consumer experts are warning college students—they are the fastest growing group being targeted for identity theft. And there’s a bunch of reasons why.

The Better Business Bureau tells WNCN, students aren’t monitoring their credit card statements like older folks do. And they take longer to report fraud. And that means, the loss is much bigger.

The BBB says, identity theft committed against people ages 18 to 24 took about four months on average to detect. The average student lost more than $1000 bucks. Which is roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups.

The experts have these tips for students to fight this trend:

1) Send sensitive mail to a parent’s home or a post office box. School mailboxes are not always secure and often can be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment.

2) Important documents should be stored under lock and key. This includes a Social Security card, passport and bank statements. Shred credit card offers and any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them out.

3) Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates to your computer’s operating system or browser software, which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.

4) Always check your credit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you will suffer in the long run.

Article source: http://www.wncn.com/story/23560812/identity-theft-targets-college-students-at-high-rate

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Medical Identity Theft: Ins and Outs

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Medical identity theft is the deadliest form of identity theft–and I say this without hyperbole or exaggeration. When financial gain is the general motivation for stealing medical information, insurance cards, records, etc., the crime is a form of account takeover fraud. Medical identity theft–the real kind–occurs when the thief’s motivation is obtaining medical procedures or healthcare.

Insurance cards allow access to a hospital or doctor’s office. When requests for additional forms of identity are requested, the thief produces fake IDs. Often, the thief conspires with an employee at the facility who “sweethearts” the transaction so the thief can get medical services.

Insurance cards are just paper or plastic and can easily be counterfeited. Many are often lost or stolen, and simply possessing an insurance card allows a thief access. Hospitals rely on the honor system, believing patients are who they say they are–but people lie. And while most of the administrators are doing their jobs ethically, some lie too.

When a thief steals a medical ID to procure medical care, the thief’s medical condition and diagnosis are added to the victim’s medical record. Ouch. This may end up as a misdiagnosis, and the introduction of data that might conflict with the victim’s medical history or conditions. Such would-be contraindications as allergies, drugs the victim may be allergic to, and other health issues may not be considered. Finally, getting misinformation or fraud removed from a victim’s medical record can be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible.

To protect yourself from medical identity theft:

  • Install a locking mailbox. This helps prevent mail from being stolen.
  • Never carry insurance or medical cards on your person unless you have an actual appointment.
  • Protect medical information documents in locking file cabinets or encrypted files. Shred all throwaway documents.
  • Get identity theft protection. When a thief can’t steal your financial ID, your medical ID will be less attractive.

Get your medical records online at the Medical Information Bureau at http://www.MIB.com.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-siciliano/medical-identity-theft-in_b_3997184.html

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Fake Obamacare sites already lining up to steal your information

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

The Affordable Health Care Act kicks in on October 1, and cybercriminals are more prepared for it than we are. Because the Health Insurance Exchange isn’t “made up of a single authoritative site where people can go and register,” it’s particularly vulnerable to scammer and phishers who will ask you for personal identification and use it for, well, nefarious things. The quote is from Christopher Budd, threat communications manager for Trend Micro security, who wrote in a blog post that the best thing you can do to avoid getting scammed is to go to a “known, trusted source,” like the federal government site, for details. Either way, tighten up your online presence: Budd says Obamacare “could be the most significant new area for phishing and identity theft in the next year in the United States. It also can give established health care scammers a new field to look for victims.” Great. [Source]

See today’s most shared stories on Facebook.

Article source: http://now.msn.com/fake-obamacare-sites-are-identity-theft-threat-trend-micro-warns

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Medical identity theft a growing risk

Sunday, September 29th, 2013


Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2013 12:00 am


Medical identity theft a growing risk

The Dallas Morning News

Richmond Times-Dispatch

WASHINGTON Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime, and the theft of medical identities is a key part of the problem.


Once a crook has an insurance card, or a Medicare or Medicaid number, investigators say, it is fairly simple to bill for fictitious services.

An estimated 313,000 Americans will have their medical identities stolen this year, according to a recent study by the Michigan-based Ponemon Institute, bringing the total number in the past few years to 1.84 million.

U.S. hospitals and medical centers have been hit by 56 hacking attacks in the past four years. A hacker traced to Romania lifted identities and other information from 780,000 patients in Utah’s Medicaid files in 2012.

“Medical identity theft has the potential to impede your medical treatment and the potential to kill you,” said Robin Slade of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance.

“A thief using your identity may have a different blood type or not have the same allergies. It’s a fraud that causes your medical record to get contaminated by a perpetrator.”

Often the thefts start small. CEO Larry Ponemon of the Ponemon Institute said about a third of the people whose identities are stolen have admitted that they shared the information with a family member or a friend who lacked health insurance.

The resulting treatment goes into the record of the ID owner, however, where it can complicate medical care and create expensive liabilities.

“Customer liability is limited in credit card fraud, but nothing like that exists in the health care space,” Ponemon said.

People working in doctors’ offices or hospitals have downloaded patient identities onto thumb drives to enrich themselves by selling the information on black markets — on the street or in Internet chat rooms.

To make sure they haven’t been victimized, consumers should check their medical records and watch their insurance statements for strange activity.

“Tens of thousands of fake medical claims can get paid before anybody gets wise,” said Jim Quiggle of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

on

Sunday, September 29, 2013 12:00 am.

Article source: http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/national-world/medical-identity-theft-a-growing-risk/article_cb6794aa-5ed8-5073-b900-96f8970db6b9.html

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10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

3. Call your credit card issuers and request an “account number change.” Don’t say you want to cancel the account; that may be misunderstood as meaning you want to close it, which could inconvenience you and hurt your credit score.

4. File a report with your hometown police department and the one where you think your wallet went missing. Get a copy of the reports and send duplicates to your bank and credit-reporting bureaus.

5. Alert your bank to change PINs, cancel your missing ATM card and send you a new one. Get a new checking account number if your checkbook is missing.

6. Place a “fraud alert” or “security freeze” on your file at the three major credit bureaus: Experian at 888-397-3742 toll-free (experian.com), Equifax at 800-525-6285 (equifax.com) and Trans-Union at 800-680-7289 (transunion.com). Alerts are free for everyone; freezes are more secure and sometimes free for people 65 and older.

7. Contact your DMV about a replacement driver’s license and ask that a stolen/lost warning be placed in your file.

Speak Out: Tell us about scams and fraud you’ve come across

8. Ask private medical insurers for a replacement account number to avoid insurance fraud. Call Medicare. Notify your auto insurer to be sure you’ll avoid problems if the thief makes an accident claim from your policy. Ask if your homeowner’s policy includes ID theft protection; some do.

9. Check your credit report about two weeks after the wallet’s loss. To get a free report, visit annual creditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 toll-free. Two weeks is enough time for thieves to apply for credit in your name, but generally not enough for new cards to be issued. Recheck your credit report two to three months later.

10. And don’t forget to replace that library card.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Article source: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-09-2013/prevent-identity-theft.html

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Real Estate Matters: Identity theft shouldn’t sink chances of purchasing a home

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

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This commenter is a Washington Post contributor. Post contributors aren’t staff, but may write articles or columns. In some cases, contributors are sources or experts quoted in a story.

Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/real-estate-matters-identity-theft-shouldnt-sink-chances-of-purchasing-a-home/2013/09/26/fd66bcae-217a-11e3-a358-1144dee636dd_story.html

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