Archive for February, 2017

Is identity theft insurance worth it?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

(CONSUMER REPORTS) – Whether you’re shopping online or swiping your card at a store, hackers have lots of opportunities to steal your identity. In 2015 alone, $15 billion dollars was stolen from 13.1 million Americans.

Some companies are looking to cash in on consumer anxiety, by offering identity theft insurance. For 25 to 50 dollars a year companies like Allstate, Liberty Mutual and State Farm, offer it as an add-on to your home or rental insurance – In most cases, they’ll reimburse you up to 25 thousand dollars for covered losses. That sounds pretty good but most banks and credit card companies already cover you for losses due to fraud. And most victims actually suffer little or no out of pocket losses.

So what does ID theft insurance actually get you? Typically, coverage includes assistance in dealing with the aftermath of identity theft – which can be time consuming – Like covering out of pocket expenses – Or supplying a case manager to make calls on your behalf.

But this insurance isn’t designed to alert you to identity theft. That’s what identity protection services do. It’s mostly for what happens after you’ve been compromised. Consumer Reports says taking matters into your own hands can be more effective and cheaper — like freezing your credit report – and signing up for free online apps to monitor your checking and credit accounts daily.

If you do opt to purchase insurance, Consumer Reports says make sure you look closely at what you are getting and what you’re paying for.

Article source: http://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Is-identity-theft-insurance-worth-it-414886223.html

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Pair charged with identity theft

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Two New York men are facing identity theft charges for fraudulent passports, credit cards and driver’s licenses that police said they found during a traffic stop in Wolf Creek Township.

Wilson Acosta, 24, and Christopher A. Sanchez, both of New York, N.Y., were charged Nov. 10 by state police.

Acosta was charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and identity theft. The charges were held to the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas during a preliminary hearing Jan. 25 with District Judge D. Neil McEwen, Pine Township.

Acosta is free on bond and his Common Pleas arraignment is set for 9 a.m. March 28 with Judge Christopher J. St. John.

Sanchez was charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and five counts of identity theft. The charges were held to Common Pleas Court during a preliminary hearing Nov. 23 with McEwen.

He is free on bond. During his Jan. 24 Common Pleas arraignment with Judge Robert G. Yeatts, one count of receiving stolen property was added. Sanchez is in the pre-trial phase, according to online court documents.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police conducted a traffic stop at 9:33 a.m. Nov. 10 on Interstate 80 eastbound near mile marker 25 on a minivan with a Florida registration plate. The vehicle’s front windows were tinted dark and the state trooper was unable to see inside the van.

A check of the license plate revealed that it was registered to another vehicle.

Acosta was identified as the driver, and he gave written consent to search the van. Police found two fraudulent passport cards with a photo of Acosta’s passenger, Sanchez. The names connected to the passport numbers did not match the names listed on the cards.

Police also found two Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and one Texas driver’s license with Sanchez’s photo; three fraudulent credit cards; seven iPhones; and six Best Buy gift cards.

Police determined that Acosta and Sanchez conspired with an unnamed suspect to steal the identities of five people. The credit and identification cards were used at numerous Best Buy stores in Wisconsin to buy about $2,000 worth of cell phones and gift cards.

The investigation is ongoing as police are working to identify other victims.

Article source: http://www.alliednews.com/news/pair-charged-with-identity-theft/article_8631bae2-685c-5fe7-9217-f11db6356fc2.html

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Romano’s Jewelers Owner Sentenced To Three Years Probation …

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

In a Vista courtroom Monday, Romano’s Jewelers owner Ramil Abalkhad was sentenced to three years probation and 250 hours of community service for identity theft charges associated with a 2012 U.S Marine Corps criminal investigation.

According to the original criminal complaint, between 2010 and 2012, Abalkhad instructed jewelry store manager Carlos Torres and employee Nellie Cha Noland Torres to obtain the personal financial information of Marine customers and then add unauthorized charges on their store credit accounts.

In November 2016, Abalkhad pleaded guilty to felony charges that included conspiracy to commit identity theft and identity theft with intent to defraud and theft by false pretenses. As part of his plea agreement, Abalkhad paid $55,000 in restitution payments before Monday’s court hearing avoiding serving time behind bars, according to San Diego Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas. The money, she said, will be distributed to at least 70 victims impacted by the identity theft.

In court Monday, the judge said since Abalkhad paid the restitution payments in full, Abalkhad would not be sentenced to time in prison. According to Darvas, if Abalkhad does not complete the terms of his probation he could then face time behind bars.

Torres and Noland pleaded guilty in the case last year and agreed to be cooperating witnesses against Abalkhad.

Both of them will be sentenced on March 16.

Abalkhad did not comment to NBC 7 Investigates about his sentence.

Click here to see the all of NBC 7 Investigates stories, in the series, “Jewelry Store Under Fire.”

According to the original 2012 Marine Corps investigation, a Marine at the time provided personal financial information belonging to military members to the jewelry store in exchange for money, jewelry and a clean balance on his Romano’s store credit account.

Active military members have an account called Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) MyPay. It is similar to a bank account and can be directly connected to other financial or loan accounts allowing the military member to have money withdrawn from the account to pay bills. Those automatic pay deduction to pay off loans are called allotments.

According to the complaint, the Romano’s employees would provide the former marine, Kymani Tate, with Social Security Numbers of military members who had store credit accounts with Romano’s. Tate would then find the corresponding DFAS MyPay accounts associated with those numbers and reset the passwords or pins. With the new pins, the Romano’s employees could gain access to the MyPay accounts and add unauthorized charges.

Abalkhad told Noland she would receive $10 for each MyPay account password she was able to reset, according to the complaint.

Noland then made a deal with Tate. According to the complaint, she offered to pay Tate $25 to reset MyPay account passwords on the accounts of active duty military members who were customers.

The complaint alleges how the employees and Tate would communicate through emails to exchange the personal information.

Tate was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps. When NBC 7 Investigates reached out to Tate last year, he sent the following statement: “I would only like to say I am deeply apologetic to the Marines and sailors who have been hurt by this. I never meant for anything so wrong to happen. Tell Marines to be careful who they give info to. Stores like Romano’s target Marines. I just want to apologize to everyone involved and my chain of command. I paid my debt to the Corps and lost my dream career. I do however have remorse for Marines and sailors that got unknowingly involved.”

NBC 7 Investigates first began looking at Romano’s business practices in November 2014.

Click here to see the all of NBC 7 Investigates stories, in the series, “Jewelry Store Under Fire.”

After receiving numerous reports from military members nationwide that Romano’s Jewelers took advantage of them, NBC 7 Investigates looked into U.S. Marine Jacob Helmuth’s purchase of a necklace. Romano’s Jewelers calls it the “Mother’s Medal of Honor.”

The price tag of more than $2,300 for the necklace and a watch raised a red flag. After sifting through purchase details, NBC 7 Investigates discovered there wasn’t much of a paper trail.

“They didn’t show me the percentage rate,” Helmuth told Nguyen. He was referring to the 29.9 percent interest rate included in his payment plan.

Click here to see that NBC 7 Investigates original story.

As a result of the NBC 7 Investigates story, the U.S. Navy warned all its sailors in the San Diego region about the company.

Several Romano’s Jewelers locations across Southern California, including three in San Diego County, closed or were in the process of shutting down last year, according to the business’ Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee. Four stores in the Los Angeles area are still opened, according to the company’s website. 

Wilton Cops:California Man Charged For Identity Theft; Stole Residents Mail

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

WILTON, Conn., — Wilton Police said a town resident helped lead them to the capture of a California man on identity theft charges on Thursday.

Elijah Jamel Chin, 26, of 1281 W. Rosecrans Ave., Gardena, CA., was charged with attempted trafficking in personal identification information, sixth-degree larceny, third-degree identity theft, and possession of less than one half ounce of marijuana. He was released after posting bond and is scheduled to appear in Norwalk court on March 6.

Police said they were notified on Tuesday of three separate incidents of identity and mail theft involving residents on Thunder Lake Road. The following day a Pipers Hill Road resident called police and reported seeing someone drive down the road appearing to take mail from neighbor’s mailboxes. The neighbor was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect and the vehicle.

Police set up surveillance in the north end of Wilton and around noon detectives noticed the suspect vehicle in the area of Whipstick Road and Nod Hill Road. Police stopped the vehicle and discovered the driver had mail and a credit card in the name of a Pipers Hill Road resident in his lap. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed further evidence involving identity theft, police said.

Police are asking residents, specifically in the Thunder Lake Road and Pipers Hill Road area of Wilton, to monitor their credit reports for any suspicious inquiries or accounts that they did not authorize. If a resident finds they are victim of identity theft, they should report the crime to their local police department.

Lt. Robert Cipolla said that it doesn’t appear Chin has a connection to the Wilton area and that police notified neighboring departments about the ongoing case.

Article source: http://wilton.dailyvoice.com/police-fire/wilton-copscalifornia-man-charged-for-identity-theft-stole-residents-mail/701464/

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Consumer Reports: Is identity theft insurance worth it? – Channel3000.com – WISC

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Consumer Reports: Is identity theft…




Whether you’re shopping online or swiping your card at a store, hackers have lots of opportunities to steal your identity. In 2015 alone, $15 billion dollars was stolen from 13.1 million Americans.

Some companies are looking to cash in on consumer anxiety, by offering identity theft insurance. For 25 to 50 dollars a year companies like Allstate, Liberty Mutual and State Farm, offer it as an add-on to your home or rental insurance – In most cases, they’ll reimburse you up to 25 thousand dollars for covered losses. That sounds pretty good but most banks and credit card companies already cover you for losses due to fraud. And most victims actually suffer little or no out of pocket losses.

So what does ID theft insurance actually get you? Typically, coverage includes assistance in dealing with the aftermath of identity theft – which can be time consuming – Like covering out of pocket expenses – Or supplying a case manager to make calls on your behalf.

But this insurance isn’t designed to alert you to identity theft. That’s what identity protection services do. It’s mostly for what happens after you’ve been compromised. Consumer Reports says taking matters into your own hands can be more effective and cheaper — like freezing your credit report – and signing up for free online apps to monitor your checking and credit accounts daily.

If you do opt to purchase insurance, Consumer Reports says make sure you look closely at what you are getting and what you’re paying for.

Article source: http://www.channel3000.com/news/money/is-identity-theft-insurance-worth-it/363458393

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In the Wrong Hands: Child Identity Theft | KSTP.com

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Eagan police followed the case when a father learned, only after the military ran a credit check on his newly enlisted son, that someone else had opened a $9,000 car loan in his son’s name back when he was 12 years old.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS discovered there is no one agency or state department that tracks the full scope of child identity theft in Minnesota.

Maplewood Family Discovers: Child’s Identity Stolen

“Who could have done this, it was sheer disbelief and then anger, who would do that?” Sarah asked after learning her 9-year-old child’s social security number was being used by a man in Minneapolis.

A state worker called the family to tell them back around the holidays there was a glitch with their medical assistance application.

The worker told the family based on their record search, their daughter earned too much money for them to qualify. The daughter is 9 years old and doesn’t work.

“I thought it was a mistake, it was a total shock,” Sarah said. “You’re thinking about their medical, their safety, safety in their schools, the things they eat not a magic number that will only affect them when they are 18.”

The worker told the family that the 9-year-old daughter was the victim of identity theft, since someone was using her daughter’s social, leaving Sarah only to wonder where someone got her daughter’s social security number.

Experts Say Check Early

“The long term effects are damaging and should be a wake-up call for parents,” said Eva Velasquez of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

The nonprofit helps victims of all forms of identity theft with resources and provides critical advice.

“The repercussions from identity theft for children can really have long term impact,” Velasquez said. “It’s never too early to start checking.”

If you wait to check and discover a problem especially before a child applies for financial aid for college it could delay them starting college.

“They find they can’t qualify for those student loans because they have bad credit and they have an identity theft issue they need to clean up,” Velasquez said.

Red Flags For Parents

The ITRC created a tip sheet with red flags for parents to look for as sign’s their child’s identity may have been compromised.

Experian explains how parents can learn if a credit report is open in their child’s name.

TransUnion also allows parents to inquire with them about the existence of a credit report for their child.

Equifax does not have information readily available via its website.

The Federal Trade Commission suggests parents checking a child’s credit report by the age of 16 for fraud or misuse.

Protecting a Child Before He or She Becomes a Victim

We discovered the laws to protect kids from identity theft in most of the country are much stronger the ones on the books here in Minnesota.

According to the National Conference of State Legislature, twenty-seven states including the state of Wisconsin allow parents, legal guardians or other representatives of minors to place a security freeze on the minor’s credit report at anytime, but Minnesota is not on the list. 

READ ALSO: NCSL Consumer Report Security Freeze State Laws

Minnesota’s Attorney General Office says parents can freeze a child’s credit only if there is a credit report already open on a child.

Minnesota does allow all victims of identity theft to apply for a credit freeze, according to Attorney General website.

Eagan police, who assisted 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on this story, say no child under 13 should have a credit report open, if there is one it probably means it’s being used against the parent’s knowledge.

However, it’s different over in Wisconsin, where parents and legal guardians can freeze a child’s credit report so people seeking to open a new credit account in the child’s name cannot access the child’s information, therefore, protecting a child’s identity from falling into the wrong hands.  

“The credit bureaus charge a fee for this service, but the small charge is worth it in light of the huge problem that results when a child’s credit information is stolen,” said Rep. Paul Tittl, (R-Manitowoc) coauthor of bill.

3 Credit Bureaus Explain Freeze Steps

Experian on Freeze Process

TransUnion on Freeze Process

Equifax on Freeze Process

Equifax allows parents to freeze credit reports of minors regardless of the state they live in.

“The level of consumer protection that you have and the tools available really shouldn’t be based on the state you live in,” consumer advocate Velasquez said.

Advice All Parents Need to Hear

The Federal Trade Commission does not break down identity theft based upon age, but shares advice for all parents to protect their children to limit the changes of identity theft.

Find more information on that here.

Learn more about combatting child identity theft here.

Article source: http://kstp.com/news/5-eyewitness-news-investigates-child-identity-theft/4406874/

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Protecting yourself from identity theft will be topic

Monday, February 27th, 2017

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Article source: http://www.thedailytimes.com/community/protecting-yourself-from-identity-theft-will-be-topic/article_c1fe4a82-49fb-5ac6-9a85-9e799cf2535b.html

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In the Wrong Hands: Child Identity Theft

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Eagan police followed the case when a father learned, only after the military ran a credit check on his newly enlisted son, that someone else had opened a $9,000 car loan in his son’s name back when he was 12 years old.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS discovered there is no one agency or state department that tracks the full scope of child identity theft in Minnesota.

Maplewood Family Discovers: Child’s Identity Stolen

“Who could have done this, it was sheer disbelief and then anger, who would do that?” Sarah asked after learning her 9-year-old child’s social security number was being used by a man in Minneapolis.

A state worker called the family to tell them back around the holidays there was a glitch with their medical assistance application.

The worker told the family based on their record search, their daughter earned too much money for them to qualify. The daughter is 9 years old and doesn’t work.

“I thought it was a mistake, it was a total shock,” Sarah said. “You’re thinking about their medical, their safety, safety in their schools, the things they eat not a magic number that will only affect them when they are 18.”

The worker told the family that the 9-year-old daughter was the victim of identity theft, since someone was using her daughter’s social, leaving Sarah only to wonder where someone got her daughter’s social security number.

Experts Say Check Early

“The long term effects are damaging and should be a wake-up call for parents,” said Eva Velasquez of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

The nonprofit helps victims of all forms of identity theft with resources and provides critical advice.

“The repercussions from identity theft for children can really have long term impact,” Velasquez said. “It’s never too early to start checking.”

If you wait to check and discover a problem especially before a child applies for financial aid for college it could delay them starting college.

“They find they can’t qualify for those student loans because they have bad credit and they have an identity theft issue they need to clean up,” Velasquez said.

Red Flags For Parents

The ITRC created a tip sheet with red flags for parents to look for as sign’s their child’s identity may have been compromised.

Experian explains how parents can learn if a credit report is open in their child’s name.

TransUnion also allows parents to inquire with them about the existence of a credit report for their child.

Equifax does not have information readily available via its website.

The Federal Trade Commission suggests parents checking a child’s credit report by the age of 16 for fraud or misuse.

Protecting a Child Before He or She Becomes a Victim

We discovered the laws to protect kids from identity theft in most of the country are much stronger the ones on the books here in Minnesota.

According to the National Conference of State Legislature, twenty-seven states including the state of Wisconsin allow parents, legal guardians or other representatives of minors to place a security freeze on the minor’s credit report at anytime, but Minnesota is not on the list. 

READ ALSO: NCSL Consumer Report Security Freeze State Laws

Minnesota’s Attorney General Office says parents can freeze a child’s credit only if there is a credit report already open on a child.

Eagan police, who assisted 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on this story, say no child under 13 should have a credit report open, if there is one it probably means it’s being used against the parent’s knowledge.

However, it’s different over in Wisconsin, where parents and legal guardians can freeze a child’s credit report so people seeking to open a new credit account in the child’s name cannot access the child’s information, therefore, protecting a child’s identity from falling into the wrong hands.  

“The credit bureaus charge a fee for this service, but the small charge is worth it in light of the huge problem that results when a child’s credit information is stolen,” said Rep. Paul Tittl, (R-Manitowoc) coauthor of bill.

3 Credit Bureaus Explain Freeze Steps

Experian on Freeze Process

TransUnion on Freeze Process

Equifax on Freeze Process

“The level of consumer protection that you have and the tools available really shouldn’t be based on the state you live in,” consumer advocate Velasquez said.

Advice All Parents Need to Hear

The Federal Trade Commission does not break down identity theft based upon age, but shares advice for all parents to protect their children to limit the changes of identity theft.

Find more information on that here.

Article source: http://www.kaaltv.com/article/stories/S4410609.shtml?cat=10728

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4 Types of Identity Theft and How to Avoid Them

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Hacker on a laptop computer

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Identity theft is a serious problem, and it seems to get worse every year. Identity thieves stole $15 billion from their victims in the year 2015 alone, according to the 2016 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy Research. Since new embedded microchips have made it much harder for identity thieves to counterfeit credit and ATM cards, other types of identity theft are now on the rise.

New account identity theft

If a fraudster can get your Social Security number, he can use it to open bank accounts and sign up for credit cards in your name. These identity thieves will use tricks like making large deposits of bad checks into an account on a Friday or Saturday so that they have extra time to withdraw the money before the checks are returned. Or they’ll apply for a credit card online, using a stolen Social Security number and birth date, and then max out the card and disappear. This style of identity theft is hard to catch because you may not know you’ve been a victim until you’re turned down for a loan or credit card and check your credit report to see why.

Tax identity theft

Using your Social Security number, an identity thief can file a tax return in your name, claim a refund, take the money, and run. Worse, some unscrupulous tax-preparers have been known to file fraudulent tax returns for their clients and pocket the refunds. In either case, the victim finds out about the fraud when the IRS audits them and demands repayment of the bogus refund. Fraudsters can often get the information they need to file taxes in your name from the internet, but some will send phishing emails to victims or even make phone calls claiming to be a representative of the IRS. The identity thief will open a “mule account,” which is a bank account used to deposit and move stolen money, and then file the fraudulent tax returns as early in the season as possible in order to beat your real return. As soon as the refund is deposited in the mule account, the fraudster will withdraw the money and run for the hills.

Medical identity theft

An identity thief who gets a hold of your name and health insurance information can use it to get medical treatment. Not only do you end up with the bills (and collection calls, and dings on your credit report), but you may have trouble qualifying for life insurance or other types of insurance because your records list you as having a medical condition based on the fraudster’s claims and treatment.

Employment identity theft

A fraudster who can’t get a job because of a criminal history or other past misdeeds may steal your Social Security number to get a job in your name. Needless to say, this can cause real problems for your future employment opportunities and various state and federal government agencies. For example, the IRS may demand that you pay taxes for income that the fraudster earned in your name.

How to prevent identity theft

Stacked Social Security cards

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Most forms of identity theft start when the thief gets your Social Security number. A fraudster might find your Social Security number online, might call you and try to trick you into giving up the information, or might simply steal your wallet (and your Social Security card along with it). In one highly publicized case, an identity thief conned credit bureau Experian into selling him millions of Social Security numbers and then turned around and sold those numbers to other fraudsters.

So if you keep your Social Security number as safe as possible — especially by not posting it online, not carrying the card in your wallet, and not giving it out over the phone — you’ll greatly reduce your odds of being victimized. It’s also a good idea to file your taxes as early in the season as possible, to reduce the odds of someone else slipping a fake tax return in under your name. Shred any documents containing your personal information, and be careful what you share online. Even something as innocuous as your birth date can give identity thieves enough information to start working on stealing your identity. And check your credit report once a year so that if something doesn’t look right, you can react promptly.

What to do if you’ve been victimized

If you suspect your identity has been stolen, acting quickly can help minimize the damage. Start by filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); they’ll give you an ID theft affidavit, which you can take to your local police department. Victims of medical identity theft should report it to their health insurance provider’s fraud department, and victims of tax or employment identity theft should report it to both federal and state tax authorities. Next, you’ll need to inform all three credit reporting agencies and anyone holding an account in your name (banks, credit card companies, etc.). Finally, it’s a good idea to reach out to your state’s consumer protection office or attorney general for help straightening out your official records.

Article source: https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/02/22/4-types-of-identity-theft-and-how-to-avoid-them.aspx

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Identity theft in Illinois and how to stay protected

Monday, February 27th, 2017

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Article source: http://www.pantagraph.com/lifestyles/personal-finance/identity-theft-in-illinois-and-how-to-stay-protected/collection_06486e62-ce11-11e6-a759-f7b8e975a30b.html

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