Archive for March, 2014

Woman doing her taxes hit by identity theft for second year in a row

Monday, March 31st, 2014

For the second year in a row, a local woman said she went to file her taxes only to discover an identity thief beat her to the punch.
 
After the first incident, the woman met with an IRS representative who flagged her account. She also received a special PIN she believed would keep this from happening again. But that wasn’t the case.
 
For the second year in a row, Kenyatta Solomon said an identity thief is making the tax filing process especially miserable for her.
 
“It’s very frustrating, especially when they say they have all these things in place and they’re supposed to be able to protect you,” Solomon said.
 
After falling victim last year to a thief who filed a return using her Social Security number, Solomon received a letter from the IRS stating they had placed an identity theft indicator on her account that would require her to enter a special pin number before filing this year.
 
“Lo and behold this year I go to file my taxes and the same thing happened again,” Solomon said.
 
The first breach resulted in Solomon not receiving her $5,000 tax return check until nearly the end of the year. This year it means she can’t file electronically.
 
“They accepted the actual address that whatever person has used, so now I’m locked out of my own personal information,” Solomon said.
 
What Solomon says is most frustrating is the fact that no one can seem to give her any information on who’s committing the crime.
 
“They’re protecting the criminal and not the actual victim, and I don’t understand that,” Solomon said.
 
Channel 2’s Ashley Swann spoke with an IRS representative who said they can’t comment on specific cases, but said they started the PIN system two years ago because identity theft has become such a big problem. The representative said Solomon shouldn’t have a problem getting her taxes straightened out this year — but she will have to file the old-fashioned way.

Article source: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/woman-doing-her-taxes-hit-identity-theft-second-ye/nfN5N/

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Identity theft causes major headaches

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Identity theft is not a matter of if it will happen, but when it will happen. With today’s advanced technology, the world of identity theft is proving to be a huge challenge to safeguarding one’s identity.


According to the statistics provided by the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), identity theft is the No. 1 national complaint for the 14th year in a row. For 2013, there were over 290,000 total complaints reported nationally, of which 4,195 complaints were actual identity theft. About 150 complaints came from Pueblo County.

The CSN statistics further stated that Colorado ranks 13th in regards to identity theft in the United States. The statistics are based only on those instances that were actually reported to the proper authorities. Many cases go unreported because of the victim’s embarrassment for having fallen prey to a fraud committed against them. The numbers are probably much higher, as it is believed only one out of five will report.

While financial gain is a primary reason for committing identity theft, it is not the only one. Stolen identities also are being used to obtain utilities, telephone services and, by some perpetrators, even employment. Some perpetrators attempt to justify their actions by stating that they meant no harm to anyone and it was just a means to support their family. While they may have meant no harm, the lengths to which some victims must go to clear up the matter is by no means an easy task.

Sadly, new evidence is showing that identity thieves are targeting children for unused Social Security numbers. Think about it, by the time a child reaches the college age or begins their independent life, many years of identity theft may have gone by undetected, making it not only a difficult task to clean up but also a nightmare to prove who committed the act.

How would you feel, as a parent, while attempting to provide a safe and secure future for your child, if you discovered that your child was shown to have a home foreclosure on their financial record, perhaps in another state; or had allegedly incurred a very large utility bill just across town. Approximately 80 percent of identity theft is committed by a friend or family member who has access to the personal information necessary to commit the crime.

So, how do you know if you have become a victim of identity theft? Most of the time, it is discovered when you attempt to make a major purchase, such as a home or automobile. Credit and background checks may reveal accounts that you never opened or criminal cases in which you were charged as a defendant. Some discover they are victims when they are notified by the Internal Revenue Service that they owe taxes on earned income from a place the victim has never worked or even lived. Some victims find out during routine traffic stops by law enforcement.

It is better to be proactive rather than reactive. Never give out your personal identifying information (name, date of birth, Social Security number, government issued identification number, passport number, employee, student or military number) to anyone you do not know.

Take the opportunity to check your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You may order them all at one time through www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228 (listen closely to the prompts), or what I would recommend is following a four-month schedule.

For example, order a credit report from Equifax; four months from that date, order a credit report from Experian; four months from that date, order a credit report from TransUnion; four months from that date, you have rotated into a new year and are now entitled to another free credit report from Equifax. Please remember, this refers to credit reports, not credit scores.

The following credit reporting agencies may be contacted to obtain a free credit report at:

Equifax: 1-800-685-1111

Experian: 1-888-397-3742

TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800

As identity theft of the younger generation is rapidly growing, be sure that when checking your credit report, you also check your child’s as well to determine if any fraudulent activity is showing. If they do, report it to the credit bureau that has noted the activity that this is a child that should have no credit built up yet. Also make a report of identity theft to either the Pueblo Police Department or Pueblo Sheriff’s Office.

Should you yourself become a victim of identity theft:

1. Make an identity theft report at either the Pueblo Police Department or Pueblo Sheriff’s Office.

2. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations. 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261.

3. Place a fraud alert on all three credit reporting agencies by calling one phone number at 1-888-766-0008.

Since 2013, your District Attorney’s Office has assisted 204 victims of identity theft through either criminal prosecution or through court orders determining factual innocence in their cases. If you should discover your identity is being used unlawfully, contact the District Attorney’s Office at 719-583-6030 for assistance and additional resources.

Remember: Identify a scam before a scam identifies you.

Stacie Harris is a paralegal employed in the Pueblo District Attorney’s Office. She is a “fraud-fighter” and has been engaged in this activity for 8 years.

Article source: http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/2394994-120/identity-theft-credit-report

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IRS combats identity theft, refund fraud

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Q. I filed my tax return and received notice from the IRS that my tax return had been rejected. I contacted the IRS to find out why, and it appears that I have been the victim of identity theft. Is there anything I can do?

— Larry, Maquoketa, Iowa

A. The IRS is prohibited by federal law from discussing any individual’s private tax matters. According to the IRS:

“Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS.

“Last year, the IRS closed 963,000 cases, which is almost double the number for 2012. IRS case resolution timeframe is down to 120-135 days. The IRS understands this is still frustrating for the victim, but these are among our most complex cases and the IRS needs to make sure they confirm the identity of the correct taxpayer. The IRS is working to speed that up.

“The IRS continues to increase both the number and efficiency of the identity theft filters that are used to identify potentially fraudulent returns. Since 2011, the IRS has stopped 15 million suspicious returns, and protected over $50 billion in fraudulent refunds. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible, and we’re firmly committed to working with taxpayers to take care of these problems as quickly as possible.”

Here are some resources from irs.gov:

IRS Combats Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts: irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Combats-Identity-Theft-and-Refund-Fraud-on-Many-Fronts-2014.

Tips for Taxpayers, Victims about Identity Theft and Tax Returns: irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Tips-for-Taxpayers,-Victims-about-Identity-Theft-and-Tax-Returns-2014.

IRS Criminal Investigation Combats Identity Theft Refund Fraud: irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Criminal-Investigation-Combats-Identity-Theft-Refund-Fraud.

You also may want to contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service at 1-877-777-4778 or online at taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/Home/Contact-Us.

Q. There used to be a movie theater by SouthPark Mall in Moline near where the OfficeMax, 4215 27th St., Moline, is located. What was the name of the theater?

— Mike, East Moline

A. We contacted the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at the Davenport Public Library to find out. The librarian checked the Moline city directories and found that the Park Way Theatre, later listed as the Parkway Cinema, was located at 4211 27th St., Moline.

Article source: http://qctimes.com/news/local/ask-the-times/irs-combats-identity-theft-refund-fraud/article_abdce916-27a6-5c09-8486-55dc110300e3.html

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Feds: Fandango Customers Were Vulnerable to Hackers, Identity Theft

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Neither company is required to pay any financial penalty as part of the settlements, although both Fandango and Credit Karma are required to establish “comprehensive security programs” and to undergo independent security assessments every other year for the next 20 years.

According to the lawsuits, the companies disabled a default encryption process, known as SSL certification. As a result, hackers could have easily intercepted private information, especially on public Wi-Fi networks often found in coffee shops, shopping centers, or airports, the FTC said.

Despite the vulnerability, Fandango assured customers that their credit card information was safe as they checked out. Credit Karma claimed it was using “industry-leading security precautions.”

In a statement Friday, Fandango said it upgraded its security in March 2013 and that it is not aware of any customers who had their information stolen.

“Security is among Fandango’s top priorities, and we are fully committed to protecting our customers’ personal information,” the company said. “We have reviewed and heightened our security program to protect our customers’ personal information, across all of Fandango’s products and platforms, and we test regularly for data security.”

A Credit Karma spokesman said the company has addressed the security issue and is not aware of any lost data.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez noted that consumers are increasingly relying on mobile apps to make purchases and handle sensitive financial information.

“Our cases against Fandango and Credit Karma should remind app developers of the need to make data security central to how they design their apps,” she said.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, and other lawmakers are pushing bills that would allow the FTC to fine companies for inadequate data-security practices.

The FTC is currently investigating Target over last year’s massive hack of credit-card information.

Article source: http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/feds-fandango-customers-were-vulnerable-to-hackers-identity-theft-20140328

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Document Shredding Company Employee Eyed in ID Theft Ring – NBC 5 Dallas

Monday, March 31st, 2014

A Fort Worth man who worked for a document shredding company did not destroy bank records and instead shared them with thieves, according to court documents.

The number of potential victims is in the thousands and the total loss may be in the millions of dollars, a law enforcement source told NBC DFW.

Patrick Doucet, 43, of Fort Worth, drove a truck for Cintas Document Management, police said.The Ohio-based company promotes its off-site shredding business as safe and secure.

Major businesses, including an insurance company, contracted with Cintas to destroy their customers’ records.

The police investigation is outlined in a search warrant for Doucet’s North Fort Worth home. In a search of the house last week, police seized computers, cell phones and other items after investigators said they found a victim’s check in Doucet’s trash.

Doucet has not been arrested but the investigation is still very active, the source said.

According to the search warrant, the investigation started in Henry County, Georgia, in January.

Police there arrested Shanika Jackson, 37, of Atlanta, and charged her with writing fake checks in the name of a Bedford woman.

Investigators said she implicated Doucet and told them he worked for a document shredding company.

It is unclear how the two may know each other.

Fort Worth detectives said they confirmed Doucet was a truck driver for Cintas and that the thefts involved Cintas’ customers on his route.

Court documents label this a multi-state theft ring.

Police said a man near Seattle was robbed of his identity after he wrote a check to Allstate Insurance Company and mailed it to Dallas.

Detectives said they found the man’s torn-up check in a search of the trash in front of Doucet’s house and the victim later confirmed someone had recently tried to write fraudulent checks on his account.

Investigators also said they confirmed Allstate was one of the businesses on Doucet’s route.

In a statement, Allstate said, “We take our customer’s privacy very serious and are looking into the report.”

Allstate is the only Cintas client mentioned in the search warrant and it is not clear what other businesses and their customers may have been victimized.

Michelle Goret, Cintas’ director of corporate communications, did not respond to a phone message or emails late Friday.

Mike Hansen, Cintas’ vice president and treasurer, also did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Doucet did not answer his door Friday afternoon and could not be reached.

Article source: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Employee-of-Document-Shredding-Company-Eyed-in-ID-Theft-Ring-252992761.html

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Catch identity theft quickly by keeping an eye on your credit reports, accounts

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Identity theft is rampant, and income tax season is prime time for it. The largest category of identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission are wage or tax-related.

“Tax time is definitely a busy time of year for identity thieves. They know there is a lot of information going around,” said Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education with Experian’s ProtectMyID.

Article source: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/catch-identity-theft-quickly-by-keeping-an-eye-on-/nfLL3/

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Child identity theft: Your child’s ID is a big target

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Child identity theft is a huge problem because it can go undetected for years. One study says 1 in 10 children have someone else using their Social Security number.

By

Bill HardekopfGuest blogger /
March 29, 2014

Child identity theft is an ongoing problem. Zach Friesen, seen here in 2006 at Denver’s East High School, has been hired by Qwest Communications to speak with students about protecting their identities. His ID was stolen when he was seven years old.

Courtesy of Mark Manager/Qwest Communications/File



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Child identity theft can be a bigger problem than other forms of identity theft because it can go unnoticed for years.

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recent Carnegie Mellon study found that 10.2 percent of children under the age of 18 had someone else using their Social Security number. That percentage is dramatically higher than the 0.2 percent rate for adults in the study. 

Crooks are targeting children because the probability of discovering the theft is so low. Children rarely use their Social Security number and parents usually do not monitor the child’s identity.

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Data theft: Top 5 most expensive data breaches

Thieves can use a child’s identity to open new lines of credit or apply for government benefits. This identity theft can have a devastating impact on a young person’s credit score. 

Many states do not have a system for dealing with child identity theft, but Delaware, Oregon, and Maryland have recently enacted laws that allow parents to establish their child’s credit identity and freeze it until the child becomes an adult. Texas and Illinois are considering similar laws.

A free service also exists from AllClearID called ChildScan. The service looks through employment records, credit records, medical accounts, and criminal records to see if your child’s Social Security number has been stolen and is being used. 

The study was based on the identity protection scans on 42,232 children (age 18 and under) in the United States during 2009-2010. The pool of 42,232 child identities includes everyone under 18 in a database of more than 800,000 identity records. 

RECOMMENDED: Get your 2014 Emerging Frontier Markets Forecast FREE.

– Bill Hardekopf is founder of Lowcards.com, an online credit-card information site.

Article source: http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2014/0329/Child-identity-theft-Your-child-s-ID-is-a-big-target

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Some Tax Filers Finding Themselves Victims Of Identity Theft

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

DENVER (CBS4) – Some tax filers are finding identity theft is getting in the way of their refunds.

Credit cards, medical records, student records, bank loans, and job applications all have a social security number and are all places where thieves look to steal them.

Whoever stole Appolonia Bullard’s social security number used it to file a fake tax return.

I don’t know how this could have happened,” said Bullard.

The Internal Revenue Service gave her $4,300 return to someone else.

“It’s not their money. It makes me very angry,” said Bullard.

Bullard is one of the many victims of refund fraud.

In the first six months of last year 1.9 million taxpayers were victims of identity theft.

“We’re seeing an increase in this because the criminal element if you will have figured out what a lucrative and easy way of making money this is,” said Professor Bill Kresse.

Bullard now has the paperwork to prove she’s a victim of identity theft and is working toward getting her refund but tax advocate Jacquelyn Crossley Smith says it won’t be easy.

“Unfortunately, identity theft is a traumatic crime,” said Smith.

It could take as long as a year to get a stolen refund back which is why protecting your social security number is critical.

“If you have a social security number, If you have personal information you’re at risk of becoming a victim,” said Smith.

The number one tip to tax filers is to file fast.

“Identity thieves tend to file as early as they possibly can. When the actual taxpayer files it’s too late,” said Smith.

More tips include: never carry your social security card in your wallet, don’t give anyone your number without checking their credentials and once tax preparers finish your taxes, keep your original documents.

Federal officials estimate the IRS could issues some $26 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in the next few years if the agency doesn’t increase security.

Article source: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/03/29/some-tax-filers-finding-themselves-victims-of-identity-theft/

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Feds: Fandango Customers Were Vulnerable to Hackers, Identity Theft // March …

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

According to the lawsuits, the companies disabled a default encryption process, known as SSL certification. As a result, hackers could have easily intercepted private information, especially on public Wi-Fi networks often found in coffee shops, shopping centers, or airports, the FTC said.

Despite the vulnerability, Fandango assured customers that their credit card information was safe as they checked out. Credit Karma claimed it used “industry-leading security precautions.”

In a statement, Fandango said it upgraded its security in March 2013 and that it is not aware of any customers who had their information stolen.

“Security is among Fandango’s top priorities, and we are fully committed to protecting our customers’ personal information,” the company said. “We have reviewed and heightened our security program to protect our customers’ personal information, across all of Fandango’s products and platforms, and we test regularly for data security.”

A Credit Karma spokesman said the company has addressed the security issue and is not aware of any lost data.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez noted that consumers are increasingly relying on mobile apps to make purchases and handle sensitive financial information.

“Our cases against Fandango and Credit Karma should remind app developers of the need to make data security central to how they design their apps,” she said.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, and other lawmakers are pushing bills that would allow the FTC to fine companies for inadequate data security practices.

The FTC is currently investigating Target over last year’s massive hack of credit card information.

Article source: http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2014/03/feds-fandango-customers-were-vulnerable-hackers-identity-theft/81544/?oref=ng-dropdown

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Third of five sentenced in ID theft, tax refund fraud scheme – Sun

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

A third person has been sentenced for his role in an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme involving five people, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer announced Friday.

Marquis Onigirin Moye, 24, of Pompano Beach, got more than four years in federal prison, plus three years probation after pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft and possession of unauthorized access devices such as refund debit cards, prosecutors said.

Co-defendants Angela Dione Rosier, 41, of Coral Springs, and Tiffany Shenae Cooper, 33, of Deerfield Beach, were sentenced Feb. 28 to more than four years in prison and three years probation. They also were ordered to pay $129,390 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and the medical services provider whose database had been breached, according to court documents.

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Moye helped Rosier get the user names and passwords of fellow employees at the medical services company so Cooper could obtain the personal information of about 250 patients. That personal information was sold with instructions on how to file false income tax refund claims, court records stated.

Co-defendants Michael Ali Bryant Sr., 41, and wife Latina Rashawn Bryant, 43, both of Lauderdale Lakes, also pleaded guilty and face up to 12 years in prison when sentenced in April, prosecutors said.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/lauderdale-lakes/fl-pompano-id-theft-tax-fraud-20140328,0,1756503.story

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