Archive for June, 2014

Hotel COO Accused Of Identity Theft, Weapons Possession, Posing As Federal …

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Authorities on Friday announced the arrest of the COO of the posh Shore Hotel in Santa Monica.

Officials said Steve Farzam is accused of identity theft, weapons possession and impersonating a police officer.

Investigators raided Farzam’s Brentwood home as well as the hotel.

They accused him of importing and trying to sell an assault weapon. Investigators also said he posed as a federal agent in an attempt to check up on people.

Farzam is free on bail after posting more than $800,000 bail, authorities said.

The 164-room Shore Hotel is located in the 1500 block of Ocean Boulevard between Broadway and Colorado Avenue. On its website, the hotel describes itself as a “sleek, eco-conscious boutique hotel” catering to guests “seeking a luxurious experience.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Farzam has been COO of the hotel since November 2010. And according to a profile on the Hotel Business Review, Farzam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University, Northridge.

The profile said he also studied pre-hospital emergency medical care at Santa Barbara City College in 1998. He was given a Medal of Valor from the Burn Institute and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for helping to save the life of a person trapped in a burning vehicle.

When not working, his profile said “Mr Farzam enjoys flying fixed-wing aircraft, restoring his Squad 51 fire truck from the television show ‘Emergency!’ and volunteering as a tactical officer at Southern California’s Building Unique Youth Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that works with at-risk youths.”

 

 

Article source: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/hotel-coo-accused-of-identity-theft-weapons-posession-posing-as-federal-agent/

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How to Protect Your Medicare Card from Identity Theft

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

2014-06-27-medicarecardblog480.jpg

Dear Savvy Senior,

I just turned 65 and received my Medicare card. I see that the ID number on my card is the same as my Social Security number, and on the back of the card it tells me I need to carry it with me at all times. What can I do to protect myself from identify theft if my purse and Medicare card get stolen?

–Conflicted Beneficiary

Dear Conflicted,

Many people new to Medicare are surprised to learn that the ID number on their Medicare card is identical to their Social Security number (SSN). After all, we’re constantly warned not to carry our SSN around with us, because if it gets lost or stolen, the result could be identity theft.

But the Medicare ID is more than an identifier. It’s proof of insurance. Beneficiaries need to show their Medicare card at the doctor’s office and the hospital in order to have Medicare pay for treatment.

Over the years, many consumer advocates have called for a new form of Medicare identification. The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, which administers Medicare, also acknowledges the problem, but so far nothing has been done.

One of the main reasons is because it would cost an estimated $255 to $317 million to fix it. And that’s just the direct cost to the federal government. It doesn’t include the expense for physicians and other healthcare providers to adjust their systems or the cost to the states.

Other government health systems, like the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, have already begun using ID numbers that are different from SSNs, but no one knows when Medicare will follow suit.

In the meantime, here are some tips offered by various consumer advocate groups that can help keep your Medicare card safe and out of the hands of fraudsters.

Protect Your Card

For starters, AARP suggests that you simply don’t carry your Medicare card at all, because it’s not necessary. Most healthcare providers already have their patients in their electronic systems and know how to bill you.

But if you really don’t feel comfortable not having it with you, then the Privacy Rights Clearing House, a national consumer resource on identity theft recommends that you make a photocopy of your card and cut it down to wallet size. Then use scissors to cut out the last four digits of your SSN, or take a black marker and cross them out, and carry that instead.

You will, however, need your actual Medicare card with you the first time you visit a new health care provider, who will likely want to make a photocopy of it for their files.

If you’re worried that you’ll need your card in an emergency situation in order to get care, you should know that emergency personnel cannot refuse you care until you show an insurance card. Although you’ll need to come up with billing information before leaving a hospital, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive care.

Lost or Stolen Cards

If your Medicare card does happen to get lost or stolen, you can replace it by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213. You can also apply for a new card online at ssa.gov/medicarecard or go to your local Social Security office.

If your Medicare card has been lost or stolen, you will need to watch out for Medicare fraud. You can do this by checking your quarterly Medicare summary notices for services or supplies you did not receive. If you spot anything suspicious or wrong, call the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 800-447-8477.

If you need help identifying Medicare fraud, contact your state Senior Medicare Patrol program.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-protect-your-medicare-card-from-identity-theft_b_5536728.html

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St. Peters man dealing with identity theft

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

(KTVI)– A St. Peters man is fighting to regain his identity.   He says he has no clue how it was stolen because he`s always been so careful. But now he`ll have to spend months trying to get his name back.

Alan Davis says when he went to the mailbox a few weeks ago, he found a letter he wasn’t expecting.

Mind you, you have to apply on line for Green Dot’s debit card and you must include your social security number. Davis says he never heard of Green Dot.

Someone had filed a joint return using Davis’ name and social security number along with the name of a man he did not know. Identity theft cost Americans $21 billion in 2012. And that figure will skyrocket by the end of 2014.

Sometimes the person who steals your personal information is sitting at a computer overseas. Other times they’re right in your hometown. In the coming years Davis will always have to prove who he really is. Taxpayers like Davis may have to wait as long as 180 days before the IRS will process their return. And there’s more.

The credit reporting agencies can put a fraud alert on your credit report. That forces a business to verify it is you who’s applying for credit and not a con artist. The alert lasts for 90 days but it’s renewable. Clues that your identity may be in the wrong hands:

• Debt collectors call you about debts that aren`t yours.

• Unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.

• Medical bill you for services you didn`t use.

• Health plan rejects legitimate medical claim because your benefit limit reached.

• Coverage denied because records show a condition you don`t have.

Identity theft is a growing trend. If it happens to you, the first call should be to your local police and then the Federal Trade Commission. All the steps we talked about can be explained by the folks at the FTC. Call us if you have consumer issues. The toll free number is 800-782-2222. The line is open Monday through Thursday between 11am and 1pm. We also have a link below for identity theft questions.

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft

Article source: http://fox2now.com/2014/06/27/st-peters-man-dealing-with-identity-theft/

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Senior Star at Weber Place Hosts Seminar on Identity Theft

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Fifth Third Bank Shares Vital Information for Older Adults

ROMEOVILLE, IL (June 26, 2014) – Senior Star at Weber Place is hosting an important presentation on identity theft on Monday, June 30 at 6 p.m. at 605 South Edward Drive, Romeoville. Led by Fifth Third Bank, discussions will focus on current information about typical scams and tactics often used by identification thieves and ways to avoid being an identity theft victim.

“We are looking forward to Fifth Third Bank presenting this vital information to our retirement community and to the residents of Romeoville and beyond,” said Michelle Franzak, executive director of Senior Star at Weber Place. “Becoming a victim of identity theft is a very scary thought to many of our residents, therefore it’s important to keep them up-to-date on this matter. We encourage all community members to join us in learning more so that we can all avoid becoming the next victim.”

An RSVP is requested by June 29. Please call 815.676.5776 to reserve your space.

For more information about Senior Star at Weber Place, please call 815.676.5776, visit the website at www.seniorstar.com and/or like us on Facebook.

About Senior Star at Weber Place:
Senior Star at Weber Place, a Senior Star community, features 346 modernly decorated apartments spanning across 29 acres of beautifully landscaped property with many customized amenities to offer its residents in three distinctive living experiences: independent living, assisted living and memory care. For more information visit www.seniorstar.com.

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Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/bolingbrook/community/chi-ugc-article-senior-star-at-weber-place-hosts-seminar-on-i-2014-06-27,0,1134555.story

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Some Alabamians Alerted to Identity Theft

Saturday, June 28th, 2014



Identity theft graphic

Montgomery, Ala.
The Alabama Department of Public Health has announced it is sending letters to individuals whose identities may have been taken from department records.

A department spokeswoman says patient records may have been used by a tax fraud operation in Alabama and Georgia. A federal grand jury in Montgomery has indicted 10 residents of both states.

Federal prosecutors say more than $20 million in fraudulent tax returns were filed using identities stolen from various places, including the Fort Benning military hospital in Georgia, a credit card calling center in Georgia and Alabama’s prison system.

The health department says anyone receiving a letter who suspects they were a victim should fill out a form in the letter and sent it with supporting documentation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montgomery.

Article source: http://www.wtok.com/home/headlines/Some-Alabamians-getting-notices-about-ID-theft-264916541.html

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How to Protect Your Medicare Card from Identity Theft

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

2014-06-27-medicarecardblog480.jpg

Dear Savvy Senior,

I just turned 65 and received my Medicare card. I see that the ID number on my card is the same as my Social Security number, and on the back of the card it tells me I need to carry it with me at all times. What can I do to protect myself from identify theft if my purse and Medicare card get stolen?

–Conflicted Beneficiary

Dear Conflicted,

Many people new to Medicare are surprised to learn that the ID number on their Medicare card is identical to their Social Security number (SSN). After all, we’re constantly warned not to carry our SSN around with us, because if it gets lost or stolen, the result could be identity theft.

But the Medicare ID is more than an identifier. It’s proof of insurance. Beneficiaries need to show their Medicare card at the doctor’s office and the hospital in order to have Medicare pay for treatment.

Over the years, many consumer advocates have called for a new form of Medicare identification. The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, which administers Medicare, also acknowledges the problem, but so far nothing has been done.

One of the main reasons is because it would cost an estimated $255 to $317 million to fix it. And that’s just the direct cost to the federal government. It doesn’t include the expense for physicians and other healthcare providers to adjust their systems or the cost to the states.

Other government health systems, like the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, have already begun using ID numbers that are different from SSNs, but no one knows when Medicare will follow suit.

In the meantime, here are some tips offered by various consumer advocate groups that can help keep your Medicare card safe and out of the hands of fraudsters.

Protect Your Card

For starters, AARP suggests that you simply don’t carry your Medicare card at all, because it’s not necessary. Most healthcare providers already have their patients in their electronic systems and know how to bill you.

But if you really don’t feel comfortable not having it with you, then the Privacy Rights Clearing House, a national consumer resource on identity theft recommends that you make a photocopy of your card and cut it down to wallet size. Then use scissors to cut out the last four digits of your SSN, or take a black marker and cross them out, and carry that instead.

You will, however, need your actual Medicare card with you the first time you visit a new health care provider, who will likely want to make a photocopy of it for their files.

If you’re worried that you’ll need your card in an emergency situation in order to get care, you should know that emergency personnel cannot refuse you care until you show an insurance card. Although you’ll need to come up with billing information before leaving a hospital, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive care.

Lost or Stolen Cards

If your Medicare card does happen to get lost or stolen, you can replace it by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213. You can also apply for a new card online at ssa.gov/medicarecard or go to your local Social Security office.

If your Medicare card has been lost or stolen, you will need to watch out for Medicare fraud. You can do this by checking your quarterly Medicare summary notices for services or supplies you did not receive. If you spot anything suspicious or wrong, call the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 800-447-8477.

If you need help identifying Medicare fraud, contact your state Senior Medicare Patrol program.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-protect-your-medic_b_5536728.html

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11 easy ways to avoid identity theft while traveling

Friday, June 27th, 2014

The last thing you want to deal with while you’re on vacation is a lost or stolen credit card, drivers license, or smart phone. Luckily there are precautions you can take to minimize your risk of theft, or, if it does happen, that it will lead to identity theft.

Eighty-five percent of cases termed “identity theft” involve the fraudulent use of an existing account, such as a credit card or bank account, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. But consumer-protection laws and zero-liability policies limit the actual cost of that crime for most consumers to zero. A much smaller but more serious threat involves a thief assuming your identity and opening new accounts in your name.

A new survey conducted by Edelman Berland for Experian’s ProtectMyID, an identity protection service, found that 18 percent of the survey’s 1,000 respondents said they had “sensitive information” lost or stolen while traveling (credit or debit cards, smart phones, drivers licenses, or passports), and 9 percent said they were the victims of identity theft.

But  the study did not define “identity theft”, so there is no way of knowing if respondents meant their personal information was just lost or stolen, if they experienced credit card fraud as a result, or if new accounts were opened in their name. Becky Frost, senior education manager for Experian’s ProtectMyID, said they might add language that addresses that issue in next year’s survey.

The results did show that many travelers failed to take some simple precautions to protect themselves before and during their trips. For example, less than half alerted their debit or credit card providers or bank before departing. Just one in three used smart phone password protection or hotel safes to protect their valuables. And more than a quarter (27 percent) brought their Social Security cards on their trip.

The study also found that consumers feel most vulnerable to identity fraud in Internet cafes and restaurants rather than hotels, where 24 percent of victims reported having their “identity stolen.”

Article source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/06/ways-to-avoid-identity-theft-while-traveling/index.htm

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At least 368 data breaches reported this year: Identity theft report

Friday, June 27th, 2014

There were 368 data breaches so far this year throughout the United States, of which 46.5%, or 171, were in the health care/medical sector, says the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, in a report issued Tuesday.

But these health care breaches accounted for only 16.7% of total compromised records, according to the San Diego-based center. The business sector, with 32.9% of the breaches, represented nearly 60% of the compromised records, according to the center.

Government/military ranked third on the list, accounting for 11.1% of the overall breaches and 14.3% of the compromised records, according to the center, whose list of data breaches is a compilation confirmed by various media sources and/or notification lists from state governmental agencies.

Montana officials said Tuesday that 1.3 million people will be notified regarding an incident where hackers gained entry to a Department of Public Health and Human Services computer server, although there is no knowledge that information on the server was used inappropriately or accessed.

Article source: http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20140625/NEWS07/140629890?tags=%7C338%7C299%7C339%7C340%7C255%7C303

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Jackson County man arrested on identity theft charges

Friday, June 27th, 2014

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Article source: http://www.therepublic.com/view/local_story/Jackson-County-man-arrested-on_1403800011

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Local law enforcement officers regularly respond to ID theft cases

Friday, June 27th, 2014

The Conyers Police Department has issued a lookout for two women who are believed to have passed a number of fraudulent checks at Walmarts in Conyers, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Gwinnett County. Anyone with information in those cases is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477). (Special photo)

The Conyers Police Department has issued a lookout for two women who are believed to have passed a number of fraudulent checks at Walmarts in Conyers, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Gwinnett County. Anyone with information in those cases is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477). (Special photo)

CONYERS — It could just be a sign of the times, but local law enforcement agencies respond to several reports of identity theft or fraud every week.

Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Michael Camp said financial identity fraud and theft have been an issue for several years, which likely will only continue as people increase their exposure through online and electronic banking and commercial transactions.

“It’s just the modern world we live in,” he said. “Information is out there a lot more.”

Law enforcement responds to a number of cases where victims report that someone has attempted to open a bank account using their Social Security number or has made a number of purchases using their credit card or debit card number.

Likewise, Camp said, the Sheriff’s Office has arrested suspects who have attempted to cash fraudulent checks. For example, a Conyers woman was arrested earlier this month after she cashed a bad cashier’s check for nearly $2,000 at a local convenience store. The victim told the Sheriff’s Office that he would not press charges if she repaid the money. However, when she failed to do so, 20-year-old Stephanie Trevino of 1150 Sigman Road, was arrested.

Officer Kim Lucas with the Conyers Police Department said instances of financial transaction card fraud are becoming more common.

“It seems as though it is becoming easier to commit this kind of fraud,” she said.

Not only is the information easier to obtain, but different retailers have different policies and practices that could either guard against this type of crime or facilitate its frequency. For instance, Lucas said, some retailers have a policy that they simply do not check identification, even if someone is purchasing a large ticket item. Others, such as certain grocery stores, train their cashiers to ask for ID if a customer is attempting to buy multiple gift cards, for example.

This week, the CPD issued a lookout for two women who are believed to have passed a number of fraudulent checks at Walmart locations in Conyers, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Gwinnett County. Anyone with information in those cases is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477).

While financial identity fraud and theft are common, instances are not necessarily on the rise in Rockdale County. According to the Sheriff’s Office, 89 cases were reported in the first six months of 2013 compared to 69 between Jan. 1 and June 24 this year. Even so, the RCSO has two investigators assigned to work on identity theft and other white collar crimes.

The Sheriff’s Office in Newton County has reported that it is seeing an uptick in the number of cases involving financial identity theft and fraud.

“We have five or six reports a day that we get of some sort of fraudulent ID fraud, fraudulent checking account activity – and that doesn’t even include stolen credit card activity,” said Newton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeff Alexander.

He said there are many ways that financial information can be stolen – either because thieves can find holes in individuals’ or companies’ protective online firewalls, or credit card numbers are copied down by dishonest clerks or servers in restaurants, for example. Alexander said he has not heard of any instances locally, but knows that some people have been victimized by skimmers that have been placed on ATMs and credit card machines.

Lucas said that the skimmers allow a criminal to copy the information that is stored on the black strip on a credit or debit card and simply transfer it to another card that uses the same technology — such as a hotel key — and use that for transactions.

Alexander said while Newton County has had some convictions in these cases, it is a difficult and time-consuming process.

“It’s difficult to track back to the source and a lot of times, the source is not even in this country,” he said.

Camp agreed and said many times the RCSO is dealing with out-of-state institutions or agencies. In the case of Trevino, she cashed a check from a Wells Fargo Bank in California.

“The good thing is, most banks are very cooperative with victims, and through FDIC, they’ll reimburse them up to a certain amount,” Alexander said. “The fact is, it’s a loss all the way around. Nobody gets their stuff back 100 percent. There is always somebody who is out.”

Lucas said that the police department would like to see stiffer penalties for people convicted of identity theft and fraud in hopes that it would dissuade people from committing the crime.

In the meantime, Lucas suggested that it is best to use credit cards whenever possible rather than debit cards that take money directly from one’s bank in the event the bank is not willing to reimburse.

Camp advised that people take extra steps to protect their identity, such as checking their credit score on a regular basis, and shredding or burning any mail that could contain identifying information.

Article source: http://www.rockdalecitizen.com/news/2014/jun/26/local-law-enforcement-regulary-respond-to-id/

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