Archive for March, 2017

Pasadena Police Arrest 3 in Possibly Major Identity Theft Case

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Two men from Pasadena and a woman from Duarte were arrested Wednesday night after the vehicle they were in turned out to be stolen and brimming with evidence of a large identity theft operation after a traffic stop at the corner of Peoria Street and North Raymond Avenue in Pasadena.

When police searched the vehicle, they found stolen IDs and credit and debit cards, credit card statements, tax returns and even card readers and computers that pointed to the suspects possible involvement in identity fraud, Pasadena Police Lt. Pete Hettema said.

Hettema said officers on routine patrol had conducted a traffic stop on the car at about 7 p.m. because they saw the vehicle had no license plates.

“Further investigation revealed the vehicle was stolen,” Hettema said. “During a search of the vehicle, numerous instruments of identity theft were recovered. One of the suspects was arrested for grand theft auto and identity theft, another for identity theft, and a third suspect was arrested for a parole violation.”

Hettema identified the suspects as Philip Marmolego, 28, and Joseph Camerano, 30, both of whom are from Pasadena; and Noelia Gaeta, 39, from Duarte.

Given the numerous items of evidence recovered, the case could be easier to prosecute compared to other identity theft cases, he said.

Hettema said in most individual identity cases, prosecuting suspects can be difficult because the credit card companies do not extend much effort to collaborate with authorities.

“This will be a good case, but oftentimes, a victim calls us and say, ‘my identity has been stolen,’ they look back at the transactions but we just don’t get a lot of cooperation from the credit card companies,” Hettema said. “They just write it off because it’s cheaper for them than going to court. It’s sad. It’s devastating for the people who are the victims.”

All of the suspects have been booked at the Pasadena City Jail and the investigation is ongoing, Hettema said.

Article source: http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/pasadena-police-arrest-3-in-possibly-major-identity-theft-case/

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Sheriff: Man with stolen truck arrested for identity theft in Yountville

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Article source: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/sheriff-man-with-stolen-truck-arrested-for-identity-theft-in/article_4bb593d6-4baa-57dc-bc0f-9ec9c6270284.html

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OPM Pays Too Much Protecting Breach Victims from Identity Theft, Watchdog Says

Friday, March 31st, 2017

The Office of Personnel Management is probably shelling out too much money for identity theft insurance for current and former federal employees compromised in the agency’s massive 2015 data breach, a government watchdog said Thursday.

Congress required the government to offer identity theft protection to victims of that hack, which exposed sensitive security clearance information about more than 20 million current and former federal employees and their families and to provide $5 million in identity theft insurance.

That level of coverage is “likely unnecessary,” however, “because claims paid rarely exceed a few thousand dollars,” according to the report from the Government Accountability Office.

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Not only does that mean the government is likely paying too much for coverage; it also could distort the identity theft insurance market, raising prices for private companies and regular consumers, GAO said.

It could also mislead consumers about the value of identity theft insurance, the agency said.


Congress should give federal agencies more leeway in determining how much identity theft insurance they should provide to data breach victims on a case-by-case basis, the government auditor said.

The Office of Management and Budget should also do more analysis about whether providing identity theft services to data breach victims is worth the expense compared to cheaper alternatives, GAO said, and provide better guidance to agencies.

OMB should also explore ways to help agencies paying to insure the same person against identity theft for two separate breaches as OPM is currently doing, GAO said.

OPM officials largely agreed with GAO’s recommendations, the report said.

The OPM breach was widely viewed during the Obama administration as an intelligence-gathering mission by Chinese government-linked hackers rather than an operation aimed at profiting from people’s personal information.

There are no known, verified instances of OPM data being released to criminals.

Article source: http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2017/03/opm-pays-too-much-protecting-breach-victims-identity-theft-watchdog-says/136602/

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Does being “smarter” or “tech-savvy” make you safer from identity theft?

Friday, March 31st, 2017

You would think that those who think of themselves as being “tech-savvy” or have a higher education are safer online from potential identity theft than others. According to a survey of over 2,000 Americans, CBT Nuggets found that this wasn’t the case. In fact, those who are “tech-savvy” or have Ph.D.s were actually more likely to be victims of online identity theft.

The study questioned survey respondents after testing their knowledge about online information security. They found some pretty interesting things when it came to internet security as it pertains to logging in, passwords, social security numbers, education, and where respondents lived. We’ve harped on the importance of unique passwords. two-factor authentication, and other security here at Techaeris over the years, but it seems people still aren’t getting the message according to the survey.

So just who is “slacking” when it comes to protecting themselves from hacking? Check out some of the findings below:

  • people who claim to be “tech-savvy” are 18% more likely to be victims of online identity theft than those who aren’t
  • women are 14% more likely to be victims of online identity theft
  • Apple users are 22% more likely than Windows users to be victims, yet Android users are 4.3% more likely than iPhone users
  • only 11% of those who have a high school or equivalent education have been victims of identity theft as opposed to 23% of those with a Master’s degree and 24% of those with Ph.D.s
  • “Tech-savvy” people? Only 6.2% use more unique passwords than people who said they weren’t, while women used 2.9% more passwords than men
  • Windows users used 12.6% more passwords than Apple users, while Android users used 10.8% more than iPhone users
  • those with a Ph.D. only used unique passwords 64% of the time while those with a high school or equivalent or some college used them 67 to 70% of the time
  • even though 66% of respondents said having information comprised was a “medium” or “huge” risk, fewer than 4% followed all the basic security recommendations
  • 40% of Americans surveyed admitted they’re too lazy, it’s too inconvenient, or they just don’t care about information security

too-lazy-to-care

Too lazy to care… (courtesy CBT Nuggets)

Of course, there are a number of reasons why some people are more likely than others. Those who are “tech-savvy” for example could be online more than those who aren’t which would increase the risk. Those with a high school diploma may be less likely to be targeted than someone with a Ph.D. simply for the type of information someone might be after, or how long they’ve been online.

who-getting-hacked

Who’s getting hacked? (courtesy CBT Nuggets)

Considering the rise of data breaches as a result of hacking and phishing lately, some of these numbers are pretty troubling. There are some easy ways to protect yourself online, and this chart from the survey shows some of these ways along with the percentage of respondents who follow each recommendation.

protecting-yourself-online-identity-theft

Protecting yourself from online identity theft. (courtesy CBT Nuggets)

What do you think about the results of CBT Nuggets’ survey? Do you use different passwords and take online security seriously? Hit up the link below for the full findings, and let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: CBT Nuggets

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Article source: http://techaeris.com/2017/03/30/does-being-smarter-tech-savvy-make-you-safer-identity-theft/

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5 Easy Steps To Help Avoid Fraud And Identity Theft

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Fraudsters continue to find new ways to separate you from your personal information and your money. No one is immune from identity theft. With a few simple steps, you can avoid some of the biggest and fastest growing traps. Even if your information, account or identity is compromised you shouldn’t panic. With proper advanced planning you should be able to minimize the loss of both time and money. Here are five steps to help you protect your data and your wallet.

1. Rising Risk: Be Very Careful Before Clicking On Any Link In A Text Message

One of the oldest tricks in the book is “phishing.” A fraudster pretends to be a legitimate business, and tricks you into sharing your personal details. Historically, fraudsters would call you on the phone or send you an email. Recently, text message attacks are becoming a lot more common. Be very careful when you receive an SMS with a link or a phone number you do not recognize. Be even more suspicious when you see a message warning of un-authorized activity or asking you to update your personal information.

Text messages on smartphones carry two big risks. First, by tapping on the link you could be taken to a false website that captures your personal information. But increasingly, sophisticated fraudsters are creating malware that can get into your smartphone. Fraudsters try to gain access to your phone, and all of the information on your phone including your mobile banking app.

Tip: Avoid clicking on links in text messages. If you are warned of a suspicious transaction on your account, call the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card to see if the warning is true. Just delete the text message.

2. Don’t Forget The Danger Of Fake Emails And Phone Calls

Tales of the Russian hack of the Democratic party continue to dominate the headlines. Perhaps not surprisingly, the hack used one of the oldest tricks in the book: email phishing. Victims received an email telling them that their Google email accounts had been compromised. There was a link in the email that took the victim to a page that looked exactly like a Google login page. The victims input their username and password, providing access to fraudster.

This type of fraud remains incredibly common – and is a very easy way for fraudsters to obtain access to your personal information and accounts. For example, you could get an email telling you that your credit card was used in Asia and that you need to verify charges. When you click on the link, you will be taken to a website that looks like your bank website – and you will be asked to input your username and password. Once you do that, you are giving the fraudsters the keys to your account.

Tip: Avoid clicking on emails and then providing personal information. If you get an email from what appears to be your bank warning you of fraudulent activity, delete the email. Call your bank (using the number on the back of your card) or go directly to your bank website to investigate.

3. Be Careful With ATMs

With the introduction of chip technology on cards, the frequency of skimming will reduce. However, the risk is still real. Preventing a bartender or waitress from skimming your card while they have it in their possession is virtually impossible. But there is still a real risk of using ATM machines.

First, be careful if you are using an ATM after hours and are required to use your card to open the door to the bank. As bank security of the ATM machine has increased, fraudsters have increasingly started adding skimming devices to the door.

Second, ATMs in bank branches are under intense security. ATMs that are far from the watchful eye of bank cameras are more at risk of being compromised. Be extra-vigilant when using non-bank ATMs, especially if they are in isolated locations.

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickclements/2017/03/30/5-easy-steps-to-help-avoid-fraud-and-identity-theft/

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Warning for Taxpayers: Identity Theft During Tax Season

Friday, March 31st, 2017

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Thousands across Maryland have fallen victim to identity theft.

Criminals steal information to file tax returns. State comptroller Peter Franchot says there’s at least 2,000 victims already.

It’s that time of the year. While millions nationwide are waiting to find out just how much money they’ll get back, criminals are hacking away, trying to steal identities and cash in on tax returns in Maryland.

“In this day and age it seems like if someone is going to get information on you, they can,” said Annapolis resident Brian Bolter.

A letter was sent out by the comptroller saying:

We received your return but if you did not file one, someone may have attempted to use your personal information and you may be a victim of identity theft.

The harsh reality for Bolter.

“We didn’t think it would get to the step where someone tried to file our taxes for us,” said Bolter, who fell victim and received the letter.

“Whoever stole our identity, tried to file our taxes for IRS and state, hoping to get a refund,” he said.

Franchot says if you already filed, you’re not required to do anything but if you received a letter and you didn’t file, you need to act quickly.

“The public should be very concerned, there’s just an out of control threat,” Franchot said.

He also says there’s plenty of potential red flags that tip them off.

“When we see big discrepancies between previous returns filed for same individual,” he said.

Franchot says your information can get used very quickly and what’s even more scary is damage control.

“It is very complicated, getting yourself extricated from that kind of criminal activity,” he said.

The comptroller says information on the return is striking because criminals get W-2 forms down to the penny.

They’re urging residents to be careful with their social security numbers, because that is key for thieves to get inside your finances.

Franchot says these actions are very prosecutable and he’s asking the legislator to give him investigatory powers to bring some of these people to court and to justice.

Anyone with suspicions or questions is urged to call the revenue administration division at 1-800-638-2937.

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook

Article source: http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2017/03/30/warning-for-taxpayers-identity-theft-during-tax-season/

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Woman sentenced to 3 years in prison for identity theft

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

MONTEREY COUNTY (BCN)–A woman was sentenced to three years in prison for identity theft, Monterey County prosecutors said Tuesday.

According to the district attorney’s office, 34-year-old Kathleen Reynosa was sentenced for purchasing a vehicle with someone else’s identity.

In March 2016, the female victim was at a medical office in Salinas when she set down her purse on a seat in the lobby.

She accidentally left the building without the purse, and when she returned to retrieve it, her wallet was gone.

The purse also contained personal identification information, including her Social Security card.

According to prosecutors, on Aug. 28, Reynosa used the victim’s identity to purchase a 2016 Dodge Journey SUV from an auto dealership in Salinas.

The vehicle was recovered on Sept. 20 by the Del Rey Oaks Police Department, and had sustained minor damage and required minor repairs before being resold.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Julie Culver sentenced Reynosa to three years in prison, which will be served in the county jail, prosecutors said.

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Article source: http://kron4.com/2017/03/29/woman-sentenced-to-3-years-in-prison-for-identity-theft/

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Workshop educates students on identity theft – WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

CARBONDALE — Experts say people within the ages of 18 and 24 years old have the highest chance of identity theft, and the inconvenience and loss that goes with it. 

Zachary Shaw, an SIU student, knows the threat of identity thieves all too well, after they hacked into his bank information.

“I had money saved up, and then I went to my account, my bank account with Banterra Bank, the next day, and everything was gone,” Shaw said.

Shaw had to prove to the bank he hadn’t made purchases overseas. The bank froze his account, while he investigated.

“I had to scratch my old card, which meant for that point for about two weeks, I was on nothing but cold hard cash,” Shaw added.

SIU leaders call his story common for people in that age group. They held a workshop Wednesday to teach students not only what to do if their identity gets stolen, but how to prevent hacking in the first place.

SIU financial literacy expert Jordee Justice says the best way to protect yourself is just staying on top of your bank statement.

“What to look for, and just basic protection tips on making sure you’re checking your bank account, making sure you’re checking your credit reports every once in a while,” Justice said.

Justice recommends limiting your ATM, debit, and credit card use at public or online outlets to prevent hackers from accessing personal information. Shaw agrees, and says he now takes it one step further by keeping his bank account at a low balance.

“The way I do it is I make sure I have enough money to get my bills paid, and I always keep maybe five or six bucks in the bank. That way if it happens again, I’m not out a whole lot” Shaw concludes.

Shaw says he and the bank finally settled everything, and he got all of his money back. Meantime, Justice says limiting yourself to cash doesn’t always provide the safest solution. She encourages everyone to check bank balances frequently, and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, scammers stole $16 billion from more than 15 million U.S. consumers last year, and over the past six years, identity thieves made off with more than $107 billion.

Article source: http://www.wsiltv.com/story/35027230/workshop-educates-students-on-identity-theft

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Is It Possible to Catch Child Identity Theft Early?

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

If you notice any of the above signs (or any other suspicious activity surrounding your child’s name), you should contact each of the three major credit bureaus immediately and request a manual search for your child’s information in their files. You will also want to place fraud alerts on their credit files, if it turns out that identity theft has occurred. From there, you can work with the credit bureaus to repair the damage, as well as file a complaint with the FTC. You may also need to contact law enforcement to file a police report, which can be helpful for proving identity theft to creditors to get false information removed from your child’s credit reports. Other documents you may need to successfully dispute fraudulent information include your child’s birth certificate listing their parents, their social security card, your government-issued ID or documents proving you are the child’s legal guardian and proof of address, such as a utility bill. The FTC has created a website that allows victims of identity theft to file a report and get a personalized recovery plan, which it walks them through, which can take some of the stress out of the situation for you.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-it-possible-to-catch-child-identity-theft-early_us_58dc5b37e4b0efcf4c66a5b2

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Keep Up Your Guard Against Tax Identity Theft

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Salem, Ore. – Personal income tax returns are due April 18, but fraudsters could be trying to use your identity to commit tax fraud right now.

Tax agencies nationwide are reminding taxpayers to protect their tax information throughout the year, but to be especially careful this time of year, when tax documents might be more accessible to criminals.

“Fraudsters are always looking for more information to use in submitting bogus refund claims,” said Ken Ross, the head of the Oregon Department of Revenue’s anti-fraud efforts. “Protecting taxpayers from identity theft goes hand-in-hand with protecting the state from tax fraud.”

Ross said that fraudsters won’t hesitate to grab data off an unsecured Wi-Fi network or steal the W-2 from your purse in your car, if the opportunity arises. Taxpayers keeping their own tax information secure is an important part of combating fraudsters.

What do I need to know as a taxpayer?

Protect your information

Help keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands by doing the following:

* Beware of phishing scams, where fraudsters will try to get you to share personal information by email or over the phone by pretending they already know it. Calls that ask you to “confirm” your Social Security number are a common example.
* Be cautious when using Wi-Fi. Unsecured Wi-Fi networks are a popular target for hackers, especially as more taxpayers connect their mobile devices to them.
* Change passwords frequently. Experts recommend changing passwords every 60-90 days and not using the same password in multiple places.
* Keep tax documents physically secure and inaccessible to criminals. If your tax documents aren’t in your presence, keep them locked up.
* Hang up on suspicious phone calls. No matter how urgent someone makes a situation sound, you can always hang up, call the Department of Revenue at their published phone number [(503) 378-4988 or (800) 356-4222 (toll-free)], and know that you’re dealing with an actual employee.

Verify your identity

Revenue staff follow up on suspicious tax returns. When you file your return, they’ll send you a letter if they’re not sure it’s legitimate. If you get an identity verification letter, respond as soon as you can. You can verify your identity by mail or by taking an online identity verification quiz.

Report identity theft

If you think or know your identity was stolen, notify Revenue immediately using the reporting feature at www.oregon.gov/dor. You can also call (503) 947-2000. Revenue can flag your account and watch for potentially fraudulent returns and help you get your real return processed correctly. You should also flag your account with the IRS by calling (800) 908-4490.

For more information on protecting yourself or what to do if you’re a victim of identity theft, visit:
* www.irs.gov
* www.consumer.ftc.gov
* www.identitytheft.gov

Article source: http://www.mycentraloregon.com/2017/03/29/keep-up-your-guard-against-tax-identity-theft/

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