Archive for April, 2015

New York State Police Identify Suspect In Identity Theft Of Terminally Ill …

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York State Police have identified a suspect they say stole the identity of a terminally ill fashion executive.

Erin M. O’Hanlon, 34, of Derby, Conn. is being sought for allegedly withdrawing more than $9,000 from the account of Kate Sullivan as Sullivan was dying in a hospital.

O’Hanlon opened several store credit cards in Sullivan’s name and purchased almost $4,000 worth of merchandise, New York State Police said.

She faces grand larceny and identity theft charges, New York State Police said.

Anyone with any information about O’Hanlon’s location is asked to call state police at (631) 756-3300.

Erin O’Hanlon is accused of stealing the identity of a terminally ill fashion executive. (credit: New York State Police)

“I was just pretty violated and felt kind of helpless standing there with my sister and then knowing that there’s some woman trying to clear out her bank account while she lays here fighting for her life,” the victim’s sister, Sarah Sullivan, who lives in Los Angeles, told CBS2’s Lou Young last week. “I just want to make sure nobody else goes through what my family’s been going through the last couple of months.”

State police said they identified O’Hanlon from a tip that came in after they posted about her on their Facebook page.

Sullivan’s sister tried to get word out on social media regarding the suspect.


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States with the most identity theft complaints

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

In 2014, data theft reached record levels. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 783 data breaches last year, a substantial increase from both the previous year and the previous 2010 peak. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recorded 332,646 identity theft complaints in 2014, up slightly from 2013. All forms of fraud, including identity theft, cost Americans about $1.7 billion in 2014, or an average of more than $2,000 per incident.

The Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) received nearly 2.6 million consumer complaints in 2014, 13% of which were identity theft complaints, the largest complaint category. Scams involving government documents such as fraudulent tax filings were the most common method of identity theft. Florida reported 37,059 identity theft complaints, or 186.3 per 100,000 people, each the largest figures by far of any state. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine states with the most identity theft complaints per 100,000 people.

While identity theft complaints are far more common in these states than in others, there are no safe states for identity theft. Steven Toporoff, attorney in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the FTC, said, “everyone is vulnerable.” If a major retail chain’s system is hacked, he added, information about millions of consumers in different states is compromised. “Any time consumers give out their information it creates vulnerability,” said Toporoff.

According to Toporoff, the motive behind identity theft is very simple. “There’s a lot of money in (identity theft) with very little physical risk,” said Toporoff. And there are many methods. In most cases, Toporoff explained, only a computer is needed to steal someone’s identity. While often such thieves operate in gangs or on a large scale, sometimes “insiders” sell information. These individuals often work for educational, financial, or medical institutions, which store personal information. Selling confidential information can be very lucrative.

While everyone is vulnerable to identity theft, children and elderly people are targeted more than others, although for different reasons. According to Toporoff, children are prime targets because their information is readily available as it is stored within a school system. In addition, almost no one monitors a child’s credit report. This means a child’s stolen identity can often be used for years before the misuse is even detected.

Elderly Americans are vulnerable to identity theft for a host of reasons. They are targeted because often they have more money than younger Americans. They also tend to have more contact with medical establishments, with multiple specialists, and with multiple people such as caretakers entering their homes more often. This may partly explain the nation-leading rate of identity thefts in Florida, where nearly 19% of the population was 65 and over in 2013, the highest proportion in the country.

Toporoff suggested that the large populations in the states with the most identity theft is also a factor. Florida, California, Georgia, and Michigan, for example, are all among the 10 most populous states in the nation, as well as top states for identity theft. “People want to live [in these states] and so do thieves,” who go to “places where there are people, so they can apply their trade, so to speak.” Toporoff noted.

The causes behind a state’s high incidence of identity theft are difficult to pin down. Toporoff pointed out that a higher incidence of these crimes could be due simply to better reporting methods or to greater attention paid in the media, which encourages people to file complaints. Still, generally speaking, for “people facing hard times, if they’re inclined to engage in criminal activity, [identity theft] is a relatively easy one to get involved in.” Similarly, a person suffering financial distress is perhaps more vulnerable to scams than many others.

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The unemployment rates in seven of the nine states with the most identity theft exceeded the 2014 annual national rate of 6.3%. Also, while 15.9% of Americans lived in poverty in 2013, more than 17% of residents in six of these states lived in poverty. Average debt levels also tended to be higher in these states. For example, the average mortgage debts in six of the nine states were among the top 20 figures compared to the rest of the nation.

To identify the nine states with the highest incidence of identity theft, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data for the 2013 and 2014 calendar years from the FTC’s Sentinel Network Data Book, which compiles the total number of fraud complaints in each state. These complaints are divided between identity theft and a second category, which includes all other kinds of fraud. We also reviewed data on consumers’ average auto, credit card, mortgage, and student loan debt, provided by Credit Karma for January 2014. Figures on income are from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2013. Unemployment figures represent annual averages for 2014 and are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the states with the most identity theft victims.

1. Florida

Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 186.3
Total complaints per 100,000 population: 1007.3 (the highest)
Total complaints: 200,392 (2nd highest)
Average amount paid: $2,104 (21st highest)

There were 186.3 identity theft complaints per 100,000 Floridians, the highest rate nationwide. Florida’s senior population appears to make the state particularly vulnerable to identity theft, and all other types of fraud, which affected more than 1 in every 100 residents, also the highest rate in the nation. The fraud rate was almost a third higher than second-ranked Georgia, which had 777.7 fraud complaints for every 100,000 residents. Florida leads the nation in the percentage of its population over age 65, 18.6%. Many of Florida’s older residents likely recieve social security benefits, which could explain the 52% of Florida identity theft complaints that involved government documents or benefits fraud, versus 38.7% nationwide. In mid-2014, Florida changed state law to strengthen requirements that individuals be notified of data breaches which could lead to identity theft.

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2. Washington

Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 154.8
Total complaints per 100,000 population: 511.6 (23rd highest)
Total complaints: 36,127 (17th highest)
Average amount paid: $2,704 (7th highest)

Slightly more than 30% of all fraud complaints in Washington involved identity theft, the highest percentage of any state. Nationally, identity theft represented 13% of all fraud complaints. Indeed, identity theft grew dramatically in Washington, more than doubling from 2013 to 2014. There were 511.6 total fraud complaints per 100,000 Washington residents in 2014, with victims reporting losses of $2,704 per person, the seventh-highest figure in the country. The median household income in Washington was $58,405, about $6,200 more than the national median. High incomes help explain why fraud nets more in the state than in most other states. Washington residents had an average credit card debt of $5,078, 12th highest in the nation. About 11% of total identity theft complaints involved credit card fraud. In August 2014, Albertsons stores in Washington state acknowledged a credit card breach affecting customers who shopped in the company’s stores in Washington, Montana and Idaho between the end of June and mid-July. According to Toporoff, publicized data breaches often result in an increase in complaints of identity theft.

3. Oregon

Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 124.6
Total complaints per 100,000 population: 505.5 (22nd lowest)
Total complaints: 20,069 (24th lowest)
Average amount paid: $1,830 (23rd lowest)

More than 60% of identity theft complaints in Oregon in 2014 involved government documents or benefits, compared to 39% nationally. Almost a quarter of all fraud complaints in the state involved identity theft, compared to 13% across the country. The number of identity thefts in Oregon more than doubled from 2013 to 2014. Total fraud complaints also rose, though not as sharply. One explanation for the increase in identity theft complaints could be better reporting by Oregonians. In October 2014, the Oregon Employment Department reported a data breach which may have affected as many as 851,322 people. While there was no evidence the information was misused, the alert may have led to an increase in complaints. Oregon’s high ranking for fraud comes against the backdrop of a relatively low violent crime rate, 243 per 100,000, the 11th lowest in the country.

MORE: 9 states running out of water

4. Missouri

Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 118.7
Total complaints per 100,000 population: 516.3 (21st highest)
Total complaints: 31,304 (19th highest)
Average amount paid: $1,587 (13th lowest)

The number of identity theft complaints per 100,000 Missouri residents jumped from 67 in 2013 to 118.7 in 2014, propelling Missouri from 25th to fourth place on this list. Government documents and benefits fraud represented the majority of identity theft complaints, 62%, the highest rate in the nation. Missouri was one of only nine states in which government documents and benefits accounted for more than 50% of identity theft complaints. Credit card fraud was a distant second, accounting for only 10% of identity theft complaints in Missouri, compared with 17% nationally. Contributing to Missouri’s high ranking, the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area had the third-highest rate of identity theft of all MSAs in the country.

24/7 WALL ST.: The rest of the 9 states with the most identity theft complaints

24/7 Wall St. is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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Governor signs AG Ferguson’s request to renew, expand ID theft task forces

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Last week, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request to renew and expand the state’s only cross-jurisdictional task forces that combat identity theft in Washington.

House Bill 1090, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kirby, D – Tukwila, passed both houses unanimously; 48 to 0 in the Senate April 13, and 97 to 0 in the House March 4. Its companion bill, Senate Bill 5058, was sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R – Auburn.

The law reauthorizes the Financial Fraud and Identity Theft Task Forces established by the Legislature in 2009. In addition to renewing the Spokane County task force, it adds Snohomish County to the task force covering King and Pierce Counties.

“These task forces have been one of our state’s best tools for combatting ID theft,” said Ferguson. “Consumers lose billions of dollars every year to ID theft and financial fraud. I’m pleased the Legislature has agreed to continue providing this critical support for law enforcement.”

“Identity theft impacts retailers and their customers,” said Jan Teague, president and CEO of the Washington Retail Association. “The good work this task force does is very beneficial in curbing this crime.”

In 2012 alone, the most recent year that federal Bureau of Justice statistics data are available, 16.6 million Americans — some 7 percent of those age 16 or older — were victims of identity theft. According to the Online Trust Alliance, in 2013 there were 2,164 data breaches in which over 830 million records were exposed, including credit card numbers, email addresses, login credentials, social security numbers and other personal information.

“Identity theft is becoming the fastest-growing financial crime in America, but this program is helping Washington’s identity theft statistics drop,” said Rep. Kirby, Chair of the Business and Financial Services Committee. “The program is particularly important for seniors, who are disproportionally affected by ID theft and credit card fraud.”

“Identity theft is a complex problem, which carries with it major consequences for Washington residents,” said Sen. Fain. “Sharing resources, including staff and information, will lead to better prevention and protection, especially for vulnerable senior citizens.”

The Financial Fraud and Identity Theft Task Forces are composed of law enforcement, prosecutors, federal agents and bank fraud investigators. They prioritize cases where vulnerable victims are targeted and defendants are repeat offenders or are linked to gangs. Without renewal, both would have expired on June 30, 2015.

“The task forces remain the best tool we have to fight organized identity theft,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “Our combined efforts resulted in nearly 1,000 convictions in 2013 and $1 million in restitution orders. These crimes can destroy people’s financial lives and this legislation provides the resources that local prosecutors and police need to combat it.”

“The Eastern Washington Identity Theft Task Force has been a vital tool in our efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute identity thieves in our region,” Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell said. “The passage of House Bill 1090 will assure that law enforcement officers, financial institutions, and prosecutors continue to have the resources necessary to combat this serious crime that impacts so many Washington families.”

“With the continual lack of prosecution resources at the county level, we have simply been unable to devote the time and attention these insidious crimes deserve,” Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe said. “Frankly, many victims of financial fraud and identity theft have been poorly served as a result. This legislation was sorely needed, and will finally enable us to hold accountable some of the people who ruin the lives, credit, and financial security of others.”


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Identity theft, scam reports on rise

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 3:30 am

Identity theft, scam reports on rise

CENTREVILLE — Tax Day brought numerous reports of identity theft here in Queen Anne’s County. Eight residents from Queenstown, Chester, Centreville, Stevensville, and Grasonville all reported being notified that when they attempted to file their 2014 taxes, the IRS advised taxes had already been filed under their Social Security number, according to the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office. The Maryland State Police also received reports of identity theft involving tax returns. In all cases, reports were made locally with the IRS conducting an investigation.

At least one resident in Chester had also been notified by the Maryland Comptroller’s Office that attempts had been made to file a Maryland Tax return. In this case TurboTax had also attempted to bill him for filing fees.

“We have also seen an increase in reports of false charges to credit cards and attempts to open credit accounts by unknown persons. Charges ranging from $125 to several thousand dollars have been made in various parts of the country,” said Sheriff Gary Hofmann.

Scam reports are also increasing. Most recently, an item was sold on eBay and payment was made with a check in a larger amount for which the the item sold. The buyer asked for the balance to be returned along with the item. Fortunately, the seller was too alert to fall for the scam, Hofmann said.

However, a friend of a Queenstown resident wasn’t so lucky. The Queenstown woman reported someone had gained control of her email account and sent a fictious email to all of her contacts stating she was stuck out of the country and needed financial assistance of $1,500. One of her friends believed the email and wired the money as requested.

Hofmann reminded residents to check their credit reports for unauthorized activity, to closely review monthly statements of credit cards and bank statements for questionable charges and to regularly change for passwords and PIN numbers. If you have been a victim, contact the sheriff’s office at 410-758-0770.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015 3:30 am.

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Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to help identify a man accused of using a stolen debit card to make purchases at Walmart Express in Stedman.

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to help identify a woman accused of making fraudulent purchases at the Food Lion on Clinton Road.

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

The car a man who is accused of using a stolen debit card was seen driving away from the Walmart Express in Stedman.

Posted: Monday, April 27, 2015 5:29 pm

Updated: 5:45 pm, Mon Apr 27, 2015.

Cumberland deputies search for man and woman accused of identity theft

By Nichole Manna Staff writer

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office detectives are searching for a man and woman accused of using stolen debit cards in separate incidents.

On April 13, a Stedman man noticed several transactions on his bank debit card he hadn’t authorized, a news release said.

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Monday, April 27, 2015 5:29 pm.

Updated: 5:45 pm.

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Identity theft events raise money for Crime Stoppers – WISH

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
papers fliers documents
(WISH Photo, file)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Stormy weather this weekend didn’t stop thousands of Hoosiers from turning out to help keep their identities safe. Shred-It events across Central Indiana helped raise more than $23,000 for Crime Stoppers.

WISH-TV partnered with Crime Stoppers to host a “Shred-It” event in Carmel on Saturday. Additional events were held in Speedway, Lawrence, Greenwood, Lebanon and downtown Indianapolis.

Despite having to close several of the sites briefly due to lightning in the area, the events helped raise more than $23,000.

Crime Stoppers requested a $5 donation per box of documents. Additional donations were requested for those who dropped off electronics at the event, which will all be safely and securely recycled.

That money will be used to help pay for tips sent in to Crime Stoppers that are used to solve crimes across Central Indiana.

Another “Shred-It” is planned for this fall.

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At this pace, Medicare won’t stop identity theft

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Medicare officials are going to protect 50 million elderly and disabled enrollees from identity theft. Someday.

Unfortunately, middle-aged identity thieves will likely hit Medicare age before the change — removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards — is completed.

A bill President Barack Obama signed April 16 gave Medicare officials four years to start issuing new cards with random health insurance claim numbers. And they have four years after that to reissue cards to current enrollees. That’s absurd.

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Social Security numbers are like gold for identity thieves. That’s why the Social Security Administration has long advised people not to carry their cards. The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken steps to remove Social Security numbers from their health insurance and identification cards, according to the Government Accountability Office. But at Medicare, it’s been the sort of slow stroll that gives bureaucracies a bad name.

Since 2004, the GAO has urged federal agencies to stop using Social Security numbers as identifiers. In 2007, the Office of Management and Budget directed federal agencies to develop plans to reduce use of the numbers. In 2008, Social Security’s inspector general called for immediate action to remove the numbers from Medicare cards.

Maybe Medicare officials didn’t get the memos.

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Congress has given the repeated exhortations the power of law. The bill Obama signed overhauling the way Medicare pays doctors also prohibits displaying, coding or embedding Social Security numbers in Medicare cards. It’s about time.

Now somebody needs to light a fire under Medicare officials.

OpinionNational cartoon roundup

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California man arrested for alleged identity theft

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

A 48-year-old California man was arrested Saturday in Helena after he allegedly tried to withdraw $5,500 from someone else’s bank account and cash a cashier’s check for $11,500 he had obtained the day before using funds from the same victim’s account.

Arthur Hubert Meyer III was arrested outside the Lucky Duck Casino and accused of felony attempted theft and felony identity theft.

Meyer admitted to using some else’s personal information to obtain money from their Wells Fargo bank account in Salt Lake City on April 23 and Butte on April 24, court documents said. According to police, Meyer withdrew $17,500 from the victim’s account in Butte, $6,000 cash and the $11,500 cashier’s check recovered in Helena the next day.

Meyer initially identified himself to police as Robert Meyer. Police say Meyer used a fraudulent Texas driver’s license, with his photo and the personal information of the victim, to complete the crimes.

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Free Shredding Event Encourages Identity Theft Prevention – KFYR

Monday, April 27th, 2015

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota partnered with the North Dakota  AARP to offer a free shredding event Saturday.

Identity theft is more common that you might think and your personal information can be stolen from more places than just the internet.

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota partnered with the North Dakota AARP to offer a free shredding event Saturday.

The “Secure Your ID” event gave people the chance to safely dispose of up to two boxes of sensitive documents and CD’s.

One of the goals is to get people educated about identity theft, which is one of the top complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

“Well, we collected close to 10 thousand pounds of personal identity information, which is all items that would include name, address, date of birth, account numbers, social security number….anything which someone can use to steal a person’s identity,” said Vicki Lokken-Paverud of the Better Business Bureau. “By doing that, we are saving someone from being the victim of a crime.”

Shredding events are also being held in Jamestown and Fargo.

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Crime Stoppers host identity theft awareness event

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

YAKIMA, Wash. — Crime Stoppers held their first free identity theft awareness shred day event of the year. There were so many people who dropped by, a *second truck had to be called in from Walla Walla to assist with the shredding.

“They virtually want to watch it go into the truck and be shredded. That’s how concerned they are that their info doesn’t get out,” said Dave Purcell, Yakima County Crime Stoppers President.

The Drug Enforcement Agency will safely burn the unused prescriptions and the shredded paper will be recycled.

Yakima County Crime Stoppers will host another drop-off in October.

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