Archive for April, 2014

Man sentenced in Golden Town Buffet identity theft ring

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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Mason City woman gets suspended sentence for identity theft

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

MASON CITY | A Mason City woman received a suspended prison sentence and probation after going on a spending spree with an illegally obtained credit card.

Jacqueline Hollenbach, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree theft, a Class C felony. She was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison suspended and three years probation. 

Hollenbach applied for and was given a credit card in the name of her boyfriend’s mother. According to court documents, she rang up more than $10,000 in charges between Oct. 18, 2013, and Jan. 28, 2014.

District Judge Gregg Rosenbladt also ordered Hollenbach to obtain a mental health evaluation and obtain or maintain full-time employment.

— Peggy Senzarino

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Paper shredding occurs nationwide to prevent identity theft

Monday, April 28th, 2014

WCNC in Charlotte, NC is reporting on April 26, 2014 about the escalating anxiety of the average citizen regarding the possibility of identity theft. Now that tax season is over, the need to safely purge old tax documents with sensitive personal and financial information is increasing at an alarming rate. From Omaha to Topeka, communities large and small are now organizing local paper shredding events as a means of fighting the ever-increasing levels of identity theft in the United States.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting, the “wounds of cyber theft can take a long time to heal”. The ramifications of the Target security breach of last Christmas is still affecting millions of Americans. And just this past February, thousands of employees of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center had their social security numbers, names, addresses, and W-2 information compromised from another similar cyber-attack.

Perhaps these national news stories are one reason why the Better Business Bureau of Topeka, KS sponsored a paper shredding drive Saturday, April 26, at the Kansas Expocenter. The event attracted thousands of concerned citizens, carrying numerous cartons and boxes of important documents and papers for instant shredding. A similar event took place in Omaha, NE that same day.

Says Omaha’s Better Business Bureau’s CEO, Jim Hegarty,

“A lot of data breaches out there. There is a real need for people to be guarding their identity very, very securely, and safety is one way for people to be really mindful of having things that may be lying around,”

While most American consumers are very aware that credit card theft is exploding, many are only now beginning to comprehend its connection to identify theft, medical insurance theft, and even child identity theft which is considered extremely difficult to detect. In cases where a minor child’s identity has been compromised, it may be years before anyone even discovers the cyber-crime. And our children’s social security numbers are listed on all of those yearly tax returns and many other important financial documents that we all too often simply toss out with the daily trash.

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New law aimed at protecting children from identity theft…but how?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Generic American Social Security Card

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A new Wisconsin law is aimed at preventing people from stealing children’s Social Security numbers to create fake credit accounts that could go undetected for years.

The Child Credit Protection Act was signed into law in December. Now, parents who contact the three major credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — can create and freeze credit records for their children. The accounts remain frozen until the child turns 16.

Once that’s done, no fraudulent credit account can be created. If one already exists, parents will be notified and can begin fixing the damage.

State officials aren’t sure how often child identity theft occurs, but they say the law gives residents an important tool to combat fraud.

Wisconsin is joining a handful of states that provide similar options.

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Consumer Watch: Who to contact to check on ID theft

Sunday, April 27th, 2014
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Q: I know you’ve written about the importance of credit reports (which I’ve saved), but are there other resources available to help us spot identity theft?

— Carla Cautious

Dear Ms. Cautious: First, I’m delighted you’ve put aside the credit report information in the event you should need it for possible ID theft or simply to check and make certain all your personal and financial information is correct.

For those first-timers, I can’t emphasize this enough: go online to (and no other website) or call 877-322-8228 for your free reports. You can obtain all three collectively once a year or spread them out and receive one every four months, which I advocate.

Annual reports are also available from other and less familiar sources. Used primarily by specific industries, such as healthcare, you can ask for these once a year — most for free. While I’ll mention only some of the most useful for the majority of consumers who are trying to prevent ID theft, AARP tells us to go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ( and search for “consumer reporting agencies” to find all 40 reports.

Check-writing history can be obtained by contacting:

1 Certegy Check Systems at 866-543-6315 or

2 Chexsystems at consumer or 800-428-9623.

3 TeleCheck/FirstData at 800-366-2425 or online at

If banking online, re-read last week’s column about passwords. If you still write checks, please invest in a cross-cut shredder and use it for checks and all personal and financial info.

Health care is more important than you know. More and more scammers are stealing your ID numbers, along with everything else they can get their grimy, greedy, grasping hands on. We can’t be too careful to protect this vital information.

1 The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) reports contain coded listings of our reported conditions and tests; call 866- 692-6901 or request these from

2 Contact your health insurer for a yearly statement of all claims and treatments. Then, compare the two for possible medical fraud/ID theft.

3 To check RX histories, call Milliman IntelliScript at 877-211-4816 or go online at A third source is Optum Medpoint at 888-206-0335.

Insurance claims can be checked at Verisk A-Plus Report. Call 800-627-3487 or type “order free report” in the search box at Check out auto and property insurance sources from LexisNexis Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). Look on or call 800-869-0751.

Public records, including property ownership, criminal history, liens, and bankruptcy, may be obtained by mail from LexisNexis Personal Reports. Print the request form from personal

Rental history is available from (Whew!) or call 888-333-2413.

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Sunday. Email her at consumer

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Possible identity theft requires immediate attention

Sunday, April 27th, 2014


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Thousands shred to battle identity theft

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Thousands of cars lined up in Omaha on Saturday morning to try to fight identity theft.

One by one, the cars took over a parking lot to shred documents.

“It’s amazing. I’m glad so many people take advantage of the opportunity,” Vivian Meneeley said.

By dropping off important documents that aren’t needed, participants know they can make sure their trash doesn’t become someone else’s treasure.

“The service, I think it’s tremendous to know what trash I get in the mail is no longer available to those unkind people,” Meneeley said.

Meneeley, a senior citizen, counts on the event each year to make sure her identity is safe. It’s now more important than ever.

“A lot of data breaches out there. There is a real need for people to be guarding their identity very, very securely, and safety is one way for people to be really mindful of having things that may be lying around,” Better Business Bureau Chief Executive Officer Jim Hegarty said.

It’s an event that can help those who may not have a way to protect themselves otherwise.

“I appreciate this. I try to be as independent as I can,” Meneeley said.

Organizers said the event was a success thanks to volunteers who directed traffic and those who helped with unloading.

“I’m doing a project at school about identity theft, and I thought it would be good to come here to do some volunteer work,” student Zach Dinslage said.

Dinslage may not have much to shred, but he understands the urgency.

“There are so many people out there this morning. They’re just coming and getting all their information. It’s nice to see, so it will keep the identity theft down,” Dinslage said.

Officials said the event set a new record with people in about 2,800 vehicles dropping off documents.

OMAHA, Neb. —

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Free Paper Shredding Reduces Risk Of Identity Theft

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- Statistics say in 2012 more than 16 million Americans were victims of identity theft and this number has continued to rise. An event Saturday helped reduce the risk of identity theft.

Better Business Bureau sponsored a free paper shredding from 9 a.m. to noon at the Kansas Expocentre.

Topekans could safely destroy up to three boxes or bags of sensitive documents in the parking lot at One Expocentre Drive in the parking lot.

Topekans also brought food and other donations to support the Kansas food bank.

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Fastest-growing identity theft scam hits New Canaan

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Seven New Canaan residents found out last week that they were victims of one of the fastest-growing scams in the country: tax return fraud.

A 49-year-old Lantern Ridge Road resident told police April 14 that when his accountant attempted to file his tax return, the accountant learned that the return already had been filed by another person. The man said the only information the Internal Revenue Service would give them was that the return was filed on April 8, Sgt. Carol Ogrinc said.

Three days later, the man’s wife learned that someone had fraudulently filed her tax return as well, according to the police report. The 53-year-old woman said she contacted the IRS and was told an investigation is underway, police said.

On April 16, a Northolt Drive couple contacted police to report that they were also victims of a tax return fraud. The 67-year-old complainant and his 63-year-old wife said their accountant learned that the fraudulent state return was successfully filed but the federal was not, Ogrinc said. An IRS representative told the accountant that an attempt to file a federal return on behalf of the couple took place on April 7, but it was rejected due to a lack of information, according to police.

Three more complainants, a 68-year-old male from Heritage Hill Road and a 48-year-old husband and his 49-year-old wife from Knollwood Lane, contacted police April 16 to report the same problem.

Although the number of reports is unusual for a small town in such a short period of time, tax return fraud by identity theft is one of the fastest-growing scams in the country, according to the IRS.

Peggy Riley, an IRS spokesman for New England, said the agency has a special investigative unit that works with the victims and tracks down the perpetrators. She said a taxpayer’s Social Security number is essentially the only information needed to attempt a fraudulent tax return.

“They get a hold of a Social Security number and they create fake W2s or 1099s,” Riley said. “Then they create a false tax return and they usually try to get it in early in the season. And when the real taxpayer comes in to file their return, it looks like the refund has already gone out, and in many cases, it has gone out.”

Typically, those who fall victim to the scam have to wait about six months to receive their refund, if they have one, Riley said.

“The real taxpayer has to work with the IRS to prove their identity and eventually they’ll get their money, but it does take some time,” she said.

The IRS announced this month that its criminal investigation department started 295 new identify theft investigations, including refund fraud, since January — which pushed the number of active cases to more than 1,800, according to an April 10 press release. In fiscal year 2013, there were less than 1,500 investigations and in fiscal year 2012, there were less than 900.

“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,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in the release.

The number of sentences also is growing. In fiscal year 2011, 80 people were sentenced in connection with identity theft or refund fraud after an IRS investigation. In fiscal year 2013, the number jumped to 438 and the average prison term was more than three years.

Several of the complainants in New Canaan said they believe their information was compromised during the Target data breach, according to police. In December, criminals gained access to customers’ credit and debit card information, including names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers.

Target officials have said there’s no indication that Social Security numbers also were taken, but authorities suspect hackers might have used the personal information to contact victims as if they were Target representatives and try to obtain Social Security numbers.

Riley said many of the fraudulent returns are filed early in the season and online., 203-330-6583, @olivnelson

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5 Top Plans to Ensure You’re Safe From Identity Theft

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Identity theft — which includes using existing accounts or personal information to open new accounts or for other fraudulent purposes — is a growing problem. In 2012, about 7 percent of people 16 and over were victims of identity theft, and over the past year, child identity theft has doubled. There are many ways you can protect yourself against identity theft, including protecting yourself and your family. If you have recently become a victim, you should take immediate steps to rectify any issues caused by your stolen identity or information. As a regular precaution, one good way to protect yourself is to consider identity theft protection.

There are many effective plans available, but some are better than others. The website 10TopTenReviews recently completed an Identity Theft Protection Services Review. Of the protection services listed, here are the top five. If you want to see the full list, you can do so here.

1. LifeLock Ultimate

LifeLock Ultimate received a 9.5/10 for an overall review. LifeLock Ultimate looks after your bank account information and monitors all three credit bureau reports daily. Users have 24/7 access to their monthly TransUnion credit score. The company monitors unregulated global networks and sites with file-sharing, and offers a $1 Million Total Service Guarantee, and has accessible member assistance. However, it doesn’t protect insurance records or provide any computer security software. You can try a free thirty day trial, but after the trial is over, the protection costs $22.50 per month. LifeLock also offers another plan for $9 per month. LifeLock Ultimate received a 10/10 for recovery assistance on the review, which means that the company does a good job of managing any identity theft that does happen.

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