Archive for November, 2015

Colorado consumers urged to protect against identity theft

Monday, November 30th, 2015

The Colorado attorney general’s office is urging holiday shoppers to exercise caution before pulling out their credit cards this season.

Identity theft — a crime that takes just minutes to commit — can leave victims dealing with consequences months or years after their information is stolen. For many victims, recovering lost funds is the least of their problems.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman released the Consumer Holiday Guide on Wednesday that provides shoppers with tips on how to protect their information during the busy season. But, she warned, identity theft is a year-round threat and consumers should always be vigilant when using their credit or debit cards and when giving out any information.

Despite new protections, identity thieves are continually a step ahead, Coffman said.

“As soon as we pick up on something and let people know to be careful, the bad guys up their game and change it,” Coffman said.

In some cases, it can take months for someone to realize their information has been stolen. In other instances, banks or financial institutions quickly alert consumers about problems.

Preventative measures have led to a reduction in identity theft cases handled by the Denver district attorney’s office, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Joseph Morales, who works in the economic crimes unit. But even with the decrease, the office receives 10 to 20 new cases every month.

Prosecutors always try to recover stolen funds from people convicted of identity theft, Morales said. That can be difficult, however, if the person is unable or unwilling to pay back the money.

“Sometimes there are defendants that take so much money it’s impossible for them to pay the money back,” Morales said.

But for some victims, recovering funds is just part of a years-long process of clearing their records. Morales has handled cases in which victims’ information was used to take out credit cards that were later defaulted on. Stolen information has been used to obtain jobs or driver’s licenses.

In some cases, defendants provide someone else’s information to law enforcement during an arrest, essentially creating a false criminal record for the person whose information was stolen.

“Identity theft can happen to almost anybody,” Morales said. “It can have a really big impact on people and it’s hard to clean up.”

Monitoring bank accounts and regularly running credit reports are good ways to monitor accounts. People should make sure they are on secure websites before entering any kind of information, Coffman said.

Some of the most common online targets for identity theft are websites people use every day, said Pam Dingle, senior technical architect for Ping Identity, which works to consolidate and strengthen passwords for corporations. E-mail accounts are one of the easiest targets for people trying to steal information.

People will attempt to reset passwords by guessing at security questions prompted by clicking on the “Forgot Password” option, Dingle said. Old passwords should never be reused, and each important account should have a different password.

Identifying information — such as a Social Security number or postal codes — are seldom necessary, and people should decline to provide them.

In addition to the new consumer guide, the attorney general’s office also has the Stop Fraud Colorado website with information on ways to avoid and report charity fraud, identity theft and other scams. There is also a “Repair Kit” available, which contains advice and steps to take if your identity has been stolen.

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Arrest made in alleged identity theft ring

Monday, November 30th, 2015

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Ellen Macmullan, 62, has been arrested in connection with a fraud case involving one victim.  However, Olmos Park police believe she is connected to a more widespread identity theft operation.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a woman filed a report with Olmos Park police in July, saying that someone had been passing checks at businesses all over town with her last name and address on them.

The affidavit stated that the woman told police she had received phone calls from those businesses seeking payment for the checks which had been returned by the bank. Although the checks had the woman’s last name and address, they featured an incorrect bank routing number and a different first name, the affidavit stated.

Police said they reviewed surveillance video from the businesses and identified Macmullan as the woman who had passed the checks, totaling more than $500, at the businesses.

The affidavit stated that investigators believe she is connected to an organized group that had been stealing people’s mail and obtaining their personal information in order to commit identity theft.

Macmullan was booked into the Bexar County jail Sunday on a charge of fraudulent use of identifying information.

Copyright 2015 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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The One Thing Everyone Should Do Now to Prevent Identity Theft

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Bank teller scares off suspects in ID theft case

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

A family of seven, including a four-month-old baby, were able to get out of their home when a fire started in the family’s garage. This happened near Lake Pleasant Parkway and Deer Valley Road. 

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Freezing credit reports urged to prevent ID theft – Omaha World

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

PITTSBURGH — So far this year, more than 100 data breaches have resulted in an estimated 153 million financial records being stolen — hitting big names such as Experian, T-Mobile, Anthem and U.S. government personnel records — with most of the victims being offered free credit monitoring services as a check against ID theft.

But a new report by the Washington-based consumer group U.S. PIRG says credit monitoring isn’t nearly enough. The group is urging all consumers to consider freezing their credit reports as the only way to stop ID thieves from taking out loans, credit cards and other credit accounts in victims’ names.

“Whether your personal information has been stolen or not, your best protection against someone opening new credit accounts in your name is the security freeze,” said Mike Litt, consumer program advocate at U.S. PIRG. “Credit monitoring services may tell you (about a fraudulent account) but only after you’ve been victimized.”

When a freeze is in place, credit bureaus are prevented from releasing a file to potential creditors without the consumer’s permission. Because most businesses won’t open credit accounts without checking a consumer’s credit history, ID thieves are locked out.

There are drawbacks to consider, including fees, which vary by state; some limitations; and the potential for delays when consumers legitimately want to apply for credit. People must lift freezes if they want to apply for mortgages, car loans, credit cards or other type of credit.

Placing or lifting a freeze (also known as a “thaw”) is free for identity theft victims in Nebraska and Iowa.

Nonvictims in Nebraska can freeze their report for $3 or lift the freeze for a defined period of time for $3; for such consumers in Iowa, those actions cost $10 and $12, respectively.

A thaw can be activated online or by phone using a personal identification number and choosing the number of days that the thaw applies. It can be a general thaw or apply only to a specific creditor.

There is no fee to permanently lift a freeze, which automatically expires in seven years.

Victims of ID theft who provide a police report can freeze and thaw their files at no charge, while people 65 and older can initiate a freeze for free but must pay $10 for a thaw.

For the broadest protection, experts recommend that consumers freeze their credit reports with all three main credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — because a freeze request with one doesn’t extend to the others. Experian said it froze 433,558 files through October this year, up from 160,639 in all of 2014.

A consumer applying for credit who wants to temporarily lift a freeze should find out which credit bureau the lender is using to assess creditworthiness and request a thaw from that particular bureau.

In most cases, a report can be thawed within 15 minutes. But since the law allows credit bureaus up to three days to lift a freeze, shoppers could be blocked from getting instant store credit — the kind that promises a discount of 10 percent or more for signing up for a credit card at the register.

Freezes also could interfere with other products and services that may require a credit check, such as getting a store-branded credit card, getting insurance, renting an apartment, hooking up to a utility or opening a cellphone account.

But Jim Hegarty, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau serving Nebraska and southwest Iowa, said such major transactions are typically not spur-of-the-moment decisions and that the benefits outweigh the potential costs.

Hegarty warns against carrying too many credit cards like the kinds offered at store checkouts and said, “People looking for a home know when they’re going to be looking at that.”

He added, “What we learn from the programs we host is that a lot of people are not even aware of the options available to them, and they don’t know they can place these alerts or freezes on their accounts and protect themselves.”

The U.S. PIRG report noted that neither credit monitoring nor a security freeze can detect or prevent unauthorized use of existing credit accounts or other types of fraud or identity theft such as theft of tax refunds or medical services. Many banks and credit card companies have mechanisms in place to detect existing account fraud and remove unauthorized purchases.

The report contended that paid credit monitoring services, which typically cost $10 to $20 a month, are not worth the expense because consumers can essentially monitor their own reports free. Federal law requires each of the main credit bureaus to provide consumers with a free credit report once a year.

Said Hegarty: “Even if you haven’t been through a data breach, I think it’s safe for Americans to assume today there’s a good chance their information has been compromised and they should be monitoring their credit and bank accounts and bills all the time.”

Litt acknowledged that a credit monitoring service might detect theft faster than consumers could on their own, depending on when consumers happen to check their reports.

For victims of data breaches, an alternative to a credit freeze is to place fraud alerts on credit reports. The alerts are free but must be renewed every 90 days. Victims of identity theft can sign up for extended fraud alerts that last seven years.

A fraud alert lets creditors know that they should take special precautions before extending credit. An alert with one of the three main credit bureaus is automatically extended to the two others.

Alerts are weaker than a freeze because creditors aren’t legally bound to abide by an alert.

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Bank teller scares off suspects in ID theft case

Sunday, November 29th, 2015


Two suspects in a Phoenix identity theft case last summer remain on the run and police need help finding them.

Silent Witness is offering a reward of up to $1,000 leading to the arrests and convictions of the pair.

A man and a Hispanic woman, both in their mid-20s, are suspected of breaking into a woman’s vehicle parked at Planet Fitness at 320 E. Bell Rd. and stealing her wallet at 6:20 p.m. on July 26.

Several weeks later, on Aug. 10, the two suspects entered a Bank of America branch at 4402 E. Camelback Rd. at 2:50 p.m. The woman approached a teller and tried to use the victim’s personal information to withdraw cash from her banking account, according to Silent Witness Sgt. Jamie Rothschild.

When the teller started questioning the ID the woman had presented, both suspects ran out of the building and fled in a white, two-door vehicle equipped with a sunroof.

The Hispanic woman is described as 5’5” tall and weighs 120 pounds. She has brown hair.

The man is 5’10” tall. No further description was provided.

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO. People can also call Silent Witness detectives toll free at 1-800-343-TIPS. Your call will remain anonymous.

Another way to leave a message is to head to the website

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Police offer reward to find ID theft suspects

Saturday, November 28th, 2015 Arizona News
Silent Witness Saturday

Posted:Nov 28 2015 07:51AM MST

Updated:Nov 28 2015 07:52AM MST

Two suspects are accused of identity theft and police are offering a reward to help find the suspects.

Phoenix Police say two people broke into a woman’s vehicle at Planet Fitness at 3rd Street and Bell Road on July 26th of this year at about 6:20pm.  Her wallet was among the personal items stolen from her vehicle.

Police say two suspects walked into a Bank of America a couple of weeks later, on August 10th at about 2:50pm.  Officers say the two people tried to use the victim’s information to withdraw money from her account.  When the teller began asking questions about the identification the suspect showed, both suspects then took off in a vehicle.

The first suspect is described as a 25-year-old Hispanic woman, about five feet five inches tall weighing 120 pounds with brown hair.  The second suspect is described as a 25-year-old white man, about five feet ten inches tall.  They reportedly left the bank in a white two-door vehicle with a sunroof.

If you have any information, you’re asked to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.  You can remain anonymous and there is a reward involved.

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Menacing, identity theft and an ejection from rehab: Pepper Pike police blotter

Saturday, November 28th, 2015


Pepper Pike

Runaways, Chagrin Boulevard: Police found and returned in less than an hour a juvenile boy reported as a runaway on Nov. 20 from the New Directions drug treatment facility.

However, upon his return, the staff there told police that he was being discharged for repeated outbursts and confrontations with other guests, and that his parents would be contacted to come and get him.

— Late in the afternoon on Nov. 20, another New Directions runaway, 16, approached a police cruiser in the North Plaza of Lander Circle and stated that he wanted to return to the facility, which was done without incident.

Menacing, neighbor trouble; Pepper Creek Drive: A resident, 53, came to the police station late on Nov. 18 to file a menacing report on behalf of a 16-year-old girl.

Identity theft, Edgedale Road: A resident reported Nov. 15 that personal identification and credit cards had been stolen while he and his family were in Florida, and that they had noticed some possible fraudulent activity on their accounts since the theft. They were given direction on what agencies to contact to set up a fraud alert flag.

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Seven ways to avoid identity theft this holiday season

Saturday, November 28th, 2015


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WASHINGTON — Consumers will face a slew of hidden threats as they pour into stores and scour retailers’ Web sites for holiday deals over the next couple of days.

Retailers are moving to use more secure technology that is expected to cut down on credit card fraud, but credit experts say identity thieves will still be attempting to steal data that they can use to commit fraud in stores and online.

Nothing shoppers do can protect them fully from having their credit card information hacked or their identities stolen, said Nick Clements, co-founder of credit comparison Web site (The Target hack in 2013, he recalls, was an attack on a large retailer that consumers could not have prevented.) But shoppers can take small steps to make it more difficult for identity thieves to go on a shopping spree under their name.

1. Use a stricter log-in.

Use a different password for each of your online shopping accounts so that if someone grabs your username and password for one Web site, they won’t be able to go on a shopping spree for other accounts. Some merchants such as Amazon have also introduced multi-factor authentication, which requires users to enter a code that is sent to their e-mail or phone number when they try to log on. The added step can make it harder for thieves with stolen user names and passwords to take over people’s accounts. Shoppers can ask retailers to remember certain devices, such as their phones and home computers, but require the codes whenever someone tries to log on from a new device.

2. Choose credit over debit.

While debit card users are also protected from fraud, identity thieves who go on a shopping spree with your debit card would be tapping into the cash you need to pay your everyday bills. In contrast, fraudulent charges on a credit card would only take up part of your credit limit. “It’s not fun when all of a sudden that cash you need to get through the month is gone,” Clements said.

3. Use a chip card.

This will be the first holiday shopping season where most retailers are required to have credit card terminals that read the more secure chip cards. The chips, which generate a new code every time they are used, are supposed to be safer than the magnetic stripes on cards, which send the same information for every transaction and are easier to copy. About 7 in 10 Americans have at least one chip card, according to Visa. People who don’t have a chip card yet can call their banks to request one.

4. Consider mobile pay.

New mobile payment options such as Apple Pay and Android Pay let consumers shop with their cellphones at retailers and through certain apps. Instead of swiping or dipping their credit cards, shoppers tap their phones, which transmit a unique code to the retailer for each purchase that is useless to fraudsters, said Mike Cetera, a credit analyst with In the case of Apple Pay, shoppers have an added protection by requiring that their finger prints be used to complete the transaction.

5. Monitor transactions.

Most banks will refund consumers for fraudulent charges made with their debit or credit cards as long as they report it in a timely matter. Consumers should check their transactions every day or every other day to scan for unauthorized purchases, especially when they are using their credit cards frequently. If you don’t have time to monitor transactions every day, then you can set up alerts to have a message sent to your phone or e-mail every time your card is used.

6. Stick to one card.

Using one card for most of your holiday purchases can limit the number of cards you need to track closely. It also cuts down the chances that more than one card will be compromised. (Though you should still check transactions on all of your cards periodically.) Try to use a card that is different from the one you use to pay your monthly bills. That way you can avoid having to reset all of your payment settings if your card is stolen.

7. Watch for phishing scams.

Fraudsters often send e-mails that promise consumers a phony promotion if they enter their personal information or click a link. The messages can include logos that closely resemble those of the legitimate retailers. And the links may download malware on your computer that gives thieves access to your personal information. Shoppers should check the Web address included in the messages and avoid clicking on links. Visit the retailer’s Web site directly before making a purchase.

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Four jailed in identity theft case

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2015 8:00 am

Four jailed in identity theft case

By Josh Thompson


Chino Hills police jailed four people Nov. 17 on suspicion of conspiracy, identity theft and theft of access cards after more than 150 fraudulent cards and $25,000 in fraudulently purchased items were found.

Silvano Flores Orozco, 34, of West Covina; Celene Rodriguez, 30, of Montclair; Juan Rodriguez, 22, of Baldwin Park; and Kevin Munive, 26, of Downey, were booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, according to a Chino Hills Police news report.

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      Thursday, November 26, 2015 8:00 am.

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