Archive for January, 2017

Taxes, scams and identity theft – The Spectrum

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Once again it is tax time and this time of year also opens the door to identity theft and tax fraud. It has been a major problem for quite a while now.

In 2015, the IRS blocked 1.4 million fraudulent tax returns that would have amounted to $8.7 billion in stolen tax returns.

Identity theft and tax fraud were so rampant last tax season that the IRS launched an awareness campaign to “better inform you about the need to protect your personal, tax, and financial data online and at home.”

According to the IRS, “People continue to fall prey to clever cybercriminals.” These criminals trick you into giving them your Social Security numbers, financial account information and passwords.

Cybercriminals use several methods to steal your information. I will give you three ways that cybercriminals steal your identity. But, do not worry; keep reading for three tips to protect yourself this tax season.

How criminals steal your information:

1. Phone extortion

If you have been receiving alarming phone calls that are supposedly from the IRS, with scary prerecorded messages about them taking legal action against you, those are very likely cybercriminals. You are not alone in receiving these calls.

Since 2013, about 900,000 of these phone calls have been made by criminals claiming to be from the IRS.

2. Phishing

I often tell you about phishing email scams, where you receive an email from a cybercriminal disguised to look like it is from a legitimate company, with official-looking logos and letterhead. Cybercriminals use this technique during tax season, too.

You could receive an email that appears to be from the IRS, but it is actually from a scammer. It could contain links that take you to websites where they will collect your personal information, and may infect your computer with malware. “When in doubt, call the IRS,” experts advised.

3. False filings

Cybercriminals will use your information to file your tax return and take your refund. If you get a rejection letter from the IRS when you file your taxes, saying you have already filed your return, immediately call the IRS.

It is always important to be cautious when it comes to giving people your Social Security number, or any identifying information by phone or email. But, during tax season, you need to be especially vigilant.

It is estimated that almost 25 percent of the scams tracked by the Better Business Bureau in 2015 involved taxes.

Here are three ways you can protect yourself, your ID, and your finances this tax season:

1. Verify, then trust

If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be with the IRS, call them back to ensure that the phone call or email came from the IRS. And, remember, if you do owe money to the IRS, you’ll almost certainly receive communication via postal mail.

2. ID and credit monitoring

It is important to have strong internet security software protecting your computer, and strong passwords to keep cybercriminals out. Beyond that, think about signing up with a company that “proactively monitors your credit and ID,” using either a company that specializes in this, your credit card, or your bank.

3. Do not share your identity with anyone

Unless you can confirm that you are really chatting with an agent of the government for legitimate purposes, there is no need to hand it over.

The best way to make sure you are talking with a legitimate IRS agent is to be the one making the call.

Stay protected!

George Cox is owner of Computer Diagnostics and Repair in Mesquite. Call him at 702-346-4217.

Article source: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/features/mesquite/2017/01/30/taxes-scams-and-identity-theft/97083344/

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Man, Woman Arrested on Identity Theft and Drug Charges After …

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

A traffic stop in Fontana led police to arrest a man and a woman who are suspected of stealing mail and committing identity theft in the Inland Empire, among other charges, authorities said Monday.

Servando Paz-Miranda, left, and Jazmin Ugalde, right, are seen in booking photos released by the Fontana Police Department on Jan. 30, 2017.

Servando Paz-Miranda, left, and Jazmin Ugalde, right, are seen in booking photos released by the Fontana Police Department on Jan. 30, 2017.

The discovery of allegedly stolen mail was made after officers pulled over a 2001 black Honda Civic in the 9000 block of Sierra Avenue about 12:30 a.m. Monday, according to a Fontana Police Department news release.

During the traffic stop, officers noticed a “large” amount of mail that did not belong to the vehicle’s two occupants, prompting a further investigation, police said.

Police eventually arrested 30-year-old Servando Paz-Miranda, and 28-year-old Jazmin Ugalde, both of Riverside, on charges including possession of stolen property, possession of forged checks, possession of narcotics and identity theft.

They were each booked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

During the investigation, officers recovered stolen mail, checks, W-2’s, government identification cards and narcotics, according to the release.

Police believe there are at least 50 victims in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

No additional details about the case were immediately released.

Article source: http://ktla.com/2017/01/30/man-woman-arrested-on-identity-theft-and-drug-charges-after-traffic-stop-in-fontana-police/

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Three suspects charged with identity theft at Deer Park Apple store

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Just a day after sheriff detectives arrested two people at the Deer Park Apple Store for unauthorized purchases, a third out-of-state suspect was arrested Saturday night, according to Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

John Michael Johnson, 18, of Ferndale, Mich., was being held on $100,000 bail in Lake County Jail on charges of burglary and identity theft, Covelli said.

Deputies were called to the store around 7 p.m. Saturday for a person attempting to fraudulently purchase merchandise using someone else’s identification, he said.

According to Covelli, two other people who attempted to gain access to user accounts and make unauthorized purchases at the Apple Store were arrested Friday night. Those suspects were identified as Alexander J. Soto, 25, of Yonkers, N.Y., and Diamand D. Reid, 22, of Roseville, Mich., and each were charged with burglary and identity theft, Covelli said, while Soto also faces a charge of retail theft.

2 arrested for trying to make fraudulent Apple store purchases, police say

2 arrested for trying to make fraudulent Apple store purchases, police say

Two people who attempted to gain access to user accounts and make unauthorized purchases at the Apple store in Deer Park were arrested Friday night by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.

Alexander J. Soto, 25, of Yonkers, N.Y., and Diamand D. Reid, 22, of Roseville,…

Two people who attempted to gain access to user accounts and make unauthorized purchases at the Apple store in Deer Park were arrested Friday night by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.

Alexander J. Soto, 25, of Yonkers, N.Y., and Diamand D. Reid, 22, of Roseville,…

(Jim Newton)

Police were able to connect the most recent suspects to the previous incidents because “they were from out of state, (and) what they did was very similar” to the theft by deception cases in July, he said.

Covelli did not disclose how the alleged crew is gaining the victims’ identities, but said an investigation is ongoing. He urged anyone using Apple and similar products to be aware of the security dangers.

Following the arrests at the Apple Store on North Rand Road in Deer Park, detectives are contacting other local and regional Apple stores to see if the suspects might have attempted the same crimes at other locations, Covelli said.

The suspects are believed to have obtained identification information ahead of time and then used it to attempt to gain unauthorized access to ATT accounts while at the Apple Store, he said.

Combined, Soto and Reid tried to purchase more than $3,000 worth of Apple merchandise to be billed to the ATT accounts, Covelli said.

Soto’s bail was set at $70,000 and Reid’s at $60,000.

Twitter @News-Sun

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-apple-store-additional-arrest-st-0131-20170130-story.html

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Taxes, scams and identity theft

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Once again it is tax time and this time of year also opens the door to identity theft and tax fraud. It has been a major problem for quite a while now.

In 2015, the IRS blocked 1.4 million fraudulent tax returns that would have amounted to $8.7 billion in stolen tax returns.

Identity theft and tax fraud were so rampant last tax season that the IRS launched an awareness campaign to “better inform you about the need to protect your personal, tax, and financial data online and at home.”

According to the IRS, “People continue to fall prey to clever cybercriminals.” These criminals trick you into giving them your Social Security numbers, financial account information and passwords.

Cybercriminals use several methods to steal your information. I will give you three ways that cybercriminals steal your identity. But, do not worry; keep reading for three tips to protect yourself this tax season.

How criminals steal your information:

1. Phone extortion

If you have been receiving alarming phone calls that are supposedly from the IRS, with scary prerecorded messages about them taking legal action against you, those are very likely cybercriminals. You are not alone in receiving these calls.

Since 2013, about 900,000 of these phone calls have been made by criminals claiming to be from the IRS.

2. Phishing

I often tell you about phishing email scams, where you receive an email from a cybercriminal disguised to look like it is from a legitimate company, with official-looking logos and letterhead. Cybercriminals use this technique during tax season, too.

You could receive an email that appears to be from the IRS, but it is actually from a scammer. It could contain links that take you to websites where they will collect your personal information, and may infect your computer with malware. “When in doubt, call the IRS,” experts advised.

3. False filings

Cybercriminals will use your information to file your tax return and take your refund. If you get a rejection letter from the IRS when you file your taxes, saying you have already filed your return, immediately call the IRS.

It is always important to be cautious when it comes to giving people your Social Security number, or any identifying information by phone or email. But, during tax season, you need to be especially vigilant.

It is estimated that almost 25 percent of the scams tracked by the Better Business Bureau in 2015 involved taxes.

Here are three ways you can protect yourself, your ID, and your finances this tax season:

1. Verify, then trust

If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be with the IRS, call them back to ensure that the phone call or email came from the IRS. And, remember, if you do owe money to the IRS, you’ll almost certainly receive communication via postal mail.

2. ID and credit monitoring

It is important to have strong internet security software protecting your computer, and strong passwords to keep cybercriminals out. Beyond that, think about signing up with a company that “proactively monitors your credit and ID,” using either a company that specializes in this, your credit card, or your bank.

3. Do not share your identity with anyone

Unless you can confirm that you are really chatting with an agent of the government for legitimate purposes, there is no need to hand it over.

The best way to make sure you are talking with a legitimate IRS agent is to be the one making the call.

Stay protected!

George Cox is owner of Computer Diagnostics and Repair in Mesquite. Call him at 702-346-4217.

Article source: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/features/mesquite/2017/01/30/taxes-scams-and-identity-theft/97083344/

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Report: Identity theft on the rise in Montana

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

A robbery was reported this morning at 7th Avenue North and North 22nd, according to a press release.

Article source: http://www.ktvq.com/story/34378550/report-identity-theft-on-the-rise-in-montana

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‘Identity Theft Passport’ could pave a smoother recovery for victims | Quigley

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

You are probably worried about identity theft. Or should be. You give your credit or debit card to strangers at cash registers, over the phone, and over the internet, and you can only hope they’re not passing along your information to bad guys. You access the ATM, sometimes in dodgy locations. Clerks put receipts for purchases right in the bag and you don’t always look to be sure they’re accurate. 

But even the most careful person can become a victim. Despite all the advice we read and hear about safeguarding documents and dealing prudently with strangers, anyone can be deliberately deceived. And, of course, sometimes you have no control at all over what happens with information and it is accidentally misused. You can entrust it appropriately to a respected firm, and then their computers are hacked and, whoops! your information is in the hands of the Russian mob or some crooks somewhere in Lower Slobovia.

Many companies offer free “protection services” but all they’ll do is alert you if someone tries to access your credit. Then all you can do is cancel your credit cards, order new ones, and hope you’re not stuck with the bills.

However, far worse things can happen. Much worse than a stranger buying stuff on your credit card. Police files are full of sad tales of thieves taking out mortgages, ordering huge shipments of materials, seeking medical treatment, and even getting arrested using false identities. Proving they weren’t you could be a terrible hassle. People report it can take years to clear their names. Meanwhile, of course, victims have little or no credit and may be hounded by vendors demanding payment for the other guy’s bills.

According to reliable estimates, ten million Americans have been affected so far. It’s a nationwide problem but there’s been little nationwide attempt to find a solution.

Now, however, some members of the New Jersey General Assembly have an idea that could help. Assemblymen Herb Conaway, D-Delran, and Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, introduced a bill to help victims clear their names more quickly when their identities have been stolen.

A-2991 requires the attorney general to provide an “Identity Theft Passport” to victims. Any resident of New Jersey who believes he or she has been victimized could make application by sending the attorney general’s office a copy of the police report and any other supporting documentation of identity theft.

The victim could use the passport to prove to any law enforcement agency that he or she is not involved in any crime committed by someone else using their name. The victim can present the passport to any credit agency attempting to collect on bills run up by someone else, and can use it as official identification for any other transaction.

“The Identity Theft Passport can help alleviate some of the costs and stress associated with identity theft,” said Mukherji. “By giving victims a way to definitively prove their identity, it may help resolve financial issues that arise as a result of the theft and possibly prevent a wrongful arrest in situations where a crime has been committed using the stolen identity.”

The bill was unanimously approved by the General Assembly in November and was sent to the Senate for consideration.  At this time there’s no Senate sponsor, so it won’t be considered any time soon. But it’s one of those common-sense bills no legislator can really object to, so I believe it will be passed before spring.

Meanwhile, continue to be as careful as you can.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A former assemblywoman from Jersey City, Joan Quigley is the president and CEO of the North Hudson Community Action Corp.

Article source: http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/01/an_identity_theft_passport_could_help_victims.html

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Protect yourself – identity theft is on the rise in Montana – KPAX

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Over 300 locals met at the Missoula Union Club to start raising funds, create coalitions and build connections within the community. 

Article source: http://www.kpax.com/story/34374735/protect-yourself-identity-theft-is-on-the-rise-in-montana

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3 charged with ID theft scheme at Deer Park Apple store | Chicago … – Chicago Sun

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Three people are facing charges after they tried to charge thousands of dollars’ worth of products to others’ ATT accounts at a north suburban Apple store.

Alexander J. Soto, 25, of Yonkers, New York, was charged with burglary, identity theft and retail theft, all felonies, according to the Lake County sheriff’s office. Diamand D. Reid, 22, of Roseville, Michigan, faces felony counts of burglary and identity theft.

On Friday evening, deputies responded to the Apple store at 30530 N. Rand Rd. in Deer Park and found Soto and Reid tried to gain access to others’ ATT accounts while at the store, according to the sheriff’s office. They then tried to bill more than $3,000 worth of Apple products to the accounts.

Police were called back to the same store about 7 p.m. Saturday to find that 18-year-old John Michael Johnson of Ferndale, Michigan, had also tried to make a purchase using another person’s identity, the sheriff’s office said. Johnson was arrested and charged with felony counts of burglary and identity theft.

Detectives are contacting other local Apple stores to see if the suspects tried the same crime elsewhere, according to the sheriff’s office. They are also investigating if there is a connection between these arrests and seven other people arrested for theft last year at the same Apple store.

Soto was ordered held at the Lake County Jail on a $70,000 bond and Reid was ordered held on a $60,000 bond, according to the sheriff’s office. Both are next scheduled to appear in court Feb. 2.

Johnson’s bond was set at $100,000, the sheriff’s office said. He is due back in court Feb. 1.

Diamand D. Reid | Lake County sheriff's office

Diamand D. Reid | Lake County sheriff’s office

John Michael Johnson | Lake County sheriff's office

John Michael Johnson | Lake County sheriff’s office

Article source: http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/two-charged-with-id-theft-scheme-at-deer-park-apple-store/

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3 charged with ID theft at Deer Park Apple store | abc7chicago.com – WLS

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Three people have been arrested and charged in an identity theft scheme at an Apple Store in the northern suburbs.

Lake County Sheriff’s deputies say they were called to the store in deer park three times because someone was trying to get access to other people’s ATT accounts.

Friday night, police said 35-year-old Alexander Soto, 35, of Yonkers, NY, 22-year-old Diamand Reid of Roseville, Mich. allegedly tried to purchase more than $3,000 worth of apple merchandise to be billed to the unauthorized accounts while at the Apple store.

Soto was charged with burglary, identity theft and retail theft. He is being held at Lake County Jail on $70,000 bail.

Reid was charged with burglary and identity theft and is being held on $60,000 bail.

At about 7 p.m. Saturday, police responded to the Deer Park Apple store for a third person attempting to frequently purchase items with someone else’s identity.

Deputies arrested John Johnson, 18, of Ferndale, Mich., who has been charged with burglary and identity theft. He is being held in Lake County Jail on $100,000 bond.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said they are contacting local and regional Apple stores to see if they attempted the similar crimes at other Apple stores.

Article source: http://abc7chicago.com/news/3-charged-with-id-theft-at-deer-park-apple-store/1726835/

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North Brunswick ID theft suspect arrested through social media tip

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Here’ what’s happening Jan. 26, 2017. STAFF VIDEO BY JOE MARTINO

Article source: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/crime/jersey-mayhem/2017/01/27/north-brunswick-id-theft-suspect-arrested-through-social-media-tip/97138562/

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