Archive for July, 2017

GAO: White House hampering federal efforts to reduce identity theft through Social Security number use

Monday, July 31st, 2017

GAO: White House hampering federal efforts to reduce identity theft through Social Security number use

The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services has announced its plan to remove Social Security numbers from beneficiaries’ Medicare cards, but the Government Accountability Office said Thursday that it is still waiting for the White House Office of Management and Budget to take further action to reduce the use of the identifier elsewhere.

In an effort to prevent identify theft, CMS said it will begin mailing new cards to beneficiaries in April 2018, with the goal that all Medicare cards are replaced by April 2019. The cards each will contain an identifier other than a Social Security number.

In fact, 24 federal agencies developed plans to reduce unnecessary collection, use and display of Social Security numbers, the GAO said in a new report, but the agencies have been impeded from fully implementing those plans by statutes and regulations that mandate collection of the identifier, the fact that the numbers are needed for agencies to interact with one another and technologic constraints of agency systems and processes.

“Further, poor planning by agencies and ineffective monitoring by OMB have also limited efforts to reduce SSN use,” the authors said.

The report noted that the Social Security Administration created an online clearinghouse of best practices for reducing the use of Social Security numbers but that it no longer is available online.

The GAO recommended that the OMB:

  • Tell agencies what they need to include in their plans for reducing the unnecessary collection, use and display of Social Security numbers, and mandate that all agencies develop and maintain complete plans.
  • Require agencies to modify their inventories of systems containing personally identifiable information to indicate which systems contain Social Security numbers, and use the inventories to monitor their reduction of unnecessary collection and use of Social Security numbers.
  • Provide criteria to agencies on how to determine what use is unnecessary so that reduction efforts are consistent.
  • Take steps to ensure that agencies provide up-to-date status reports on their progress.
  • Establish performance measures to monitor agency progress.

The OMB has not responded to the GAO’s recommendations, the GAO said.

Article source: http://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/news/gao-white-house-hampering-federal-efforts-to-reduce-identity-theft-through-social-security-number-use/article/678167/

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New post office program fights ID theft

Monday, July 31st, 2017

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s a new way to help battle identity theft, and it’s free.

The U.S. Postal Service earlier this year rolled out a program that gives a digital preview of the mail customers can expect to find in their box that same day.

Called Informed Delivery, the service sends you a morning email with black-and-white images of letter-sized pieces that have been processed by the agency’s sorting equipment. It’s the same mechanism the Postal Service uses to scan mail, so you’re getting pictures of what the carrier will be bringing you. Holidays and Sundays are not included.

The messages can be viewed on a computer or smartphone. Flat-shaped pieces, such as catalogs and magazines, and mass fliers, such as grocery circulars, are not included.

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The great thing about this service is that you’ll know quickly if something is missing from your box.

“It allows users access to their household’s mail wherever, whenever – even as they travel – on a computer, tablet, or mobile device,” said Peter Hass, Postal Service spokesman.

Mail theft is one way identity thieves go about their business. Once they have credit card statements, banking information or other identifying data that’s included in your mail, they can fairly easily impersonate you and steal your money.

Consumers nationwide reported about 400,000 identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission last year, making the crime the third-largest category of complaints.

Also, Informed Delivery tells you when something important is coming your way so that you can ask a family member or trusted neighbor to retrieve it for you if you can’t get to your box that day.

“If any mail is missing or there’s a discrepancy between the scanned images and the mail in your box, you’ll know to alert the local postmaster,” said the national Identity Theft Resource Center.

The morning email alert includes up to 10 mail piece images, but you can see any additional mailings on your online dashboard, in the same place you would track packages, the Poster Service says.

For more details and information on signing up, go to https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action.

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Antenna up, if you get a call from a 323 area code that purports to be from the Social Security Administration.

Although mention of a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase might be appealing, the person at the other end of the line is a fraud as is the supposed hike in benefits.

The caller poses as a Social Security employee and says to receive the increase, the intended victim must verify personal information, such as name, date of birth and Social Security number. Once the impersonators have this information, they contact the agency and ask that changes be made to the victim’s direct deposit, address, and telephone information.

Here’s the reality: Social Security recipients this year are receiving a 0.3 percent cost-of-living increase, so talk of a 1.7 percent hike would fall into the too-good-to-be-true category.

Social Security employees do sometimes call people for customer-service purposes, the agency said. It is rare that they ask the person to confirm personal information over the phone; in cases where that happens it is a “limited special situation” that you will have been made aware of.

Report a suspicious call like this to the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210​.

 

Article source: https://www.abqjournal.com/1040552/fights-id-theft.html

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Former UO football player arrested, accused of identity theft – The Register

Monday, July 31st, 2017

A former University of Ore­gon football player has been arrested on charges of identity theft after allegedly using a customer’s debit card while working at U.S. Bank.

Jonathan Kenion, who played as a redshirt freshman for the Ducks in 2014, was arrested Tuesday on an arrest warrant issued in April.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit written by UO police officer Anthony Button, it appears that additional charges of second-degree identity theft, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and fraudulent use of a credit card might be pending.

Kenion first was arrested in December after a customer at U.S. Bank reported to police that fraudulent cash withdrawals had been made with his old debit card.

The customer told police that he had turned in his old debit card to a bank employee Nov. 16 after activating a new card, and the employee said he would destroy the old card. The affidavit states the card never was de­activated or destroyed.

Instead, Kenion allegedly signed onto the victim’s online account the following day and reset the debit card’s PIN. He then used the card at various ATMs in Eugene to withdraw more than $900 in two days from both the customer’s checking and savings accounts, according to the affidavit.

Kenion denied any wrongdoing when police interviewed him, according to the affidavit, telling the police officer that he had taken the victim’s debit card by mistake, thinking it was his own.

The affidavit states that the victim’s debit card and Kenion’s debit card “looked nothing alike in terms of background colors and designs.”

Both identity theft charges are felonies.

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Article source: http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35802741-75/former-uo-football-player-arrested-accused-of-identity-theft.html.csp

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Wanted ID theft suspect used Clark County man’s identity for months

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Sergio Jose Martinez, 31, was arrested Monday night on charges including robbery, burglary, kidnapping and sex abuse involving two victims.

Article source: http://www.kptv.com/story/36001811/wanted-id-theft-suspect-used-clark-county-mans-identity-for-months

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Wanted ID theft suspect used Clark County man’s identity for mon …

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

For the second time this year, an entire town in Oregon is up for sale, this one with a legacy of low populations.

Article source: http://www.kptv.com/story/36001811/wanted-id-theft-suspect-used-clark-county-mans-identity-for-months

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IRS sees big drop in identity theft, stolen tax refunds

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The IRS is seeing a big drop in the number of identity theft victims after the agency teamed up with tax preparers to fight the problem, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday.

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The number of victims was nearly cut in half last year, compared to the previous year. At the same time, he said, more businesses are being targeted.

In 2015, thieves stole the identities of nearly 700,000 victims. Last year, the number dropped to 377,000.

Koskinen said the IRS identified 107,000 identity theft victims in the first five months of this year.

Thieves use stolen identities to try to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. They get the refunds by obtaining private information about victims — Social Security numbers, birth dates and income data — and using it to file fraudulent tax returns in their name.

Victims then have to go through a sometimes lengthy process to get their legitimate tax refund.

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The IRS is a popular target for sophisticated identity thieves because the agency issues more than $300 billion in tax refunds each year. Several years ago, the IRS started teaming up with the major tax preparers to crack down on the problem.

The IRS has updated its computer filters to identify more fraudulent tax returns while tax preparers have stepped up their security.

“They are having more trouble getting past our security protections in our tax processing systems, so they are increasingly taking aim at the places where large amounts of taxpayer data reside,” Koskinen said.

“That means trying to access data belonging to tax return preparers and other tax professionals, as well as the payroll community, small employers and human resources departments,” Koskinen said.

One ploy involves thieves emailing workers in the payroll department of a large employer, masquerading as a supervisor seeking W-2 information about other workers.

The payroll worker thinks they are emailing the information to the company CEO, but “instead of going to the CEO it goes to someone in Belarus,” Koskinen said.

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Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

Article source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/25/irs-see-big-drop-in-identity-theft-stolen-tax-refunds.html

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Former UO football player arrested, accused of identity theft | Local … – The Register

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

A former University of Ore­gon football player has been arrested on charges of identity theft after allegedly using a customer’s debit card while working at U.S. Bank.

Jonathan Kenion, who played as a redshirt freshman for the Ducks in 2014, was arrested Tuesday on an arrest warrant issued in April.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit written by UO police officer Anthony Button, it appears that additional charges of second-degree identity theft, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and fraudulent use of a credit card might be pending.

Kenion first was arrested in December after a customer at U.S. Bank reported to police that fraudulent cash withdrawals had been made with his old debit card.

The customer told police that he had turned in his old debit card to a bank employee Nov. 16 after activating a new card, and the employee said he would destroy the old card. The affidavit states the card never was de­activated or destroyed.

Instead, Kenion allegedly signed onto the victim’s online account the following day and reset the debit card’s PIN. He then used the card at various ATMs in Eugene to withdraw more than $900 in two days from both the customer’s checking and savings accounts, according to the affidavit.

Kenion denied any wrongdoing when police interviewed him, according to the affidavit, telling the police officer that he had taken the victim’s debit card by mistake, thinking it was his own.

The affidavit states that the victim’s debit card and Kenion’s debit card “looked nothing alike in terms of background colors and designs.”

Both identity theft charges are felonies.

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Article source: http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35802741-75/former-uo-football-player-arrested-accused-of-identity-theft.html.csp

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Seniors learn how to protect themselves from identity theft

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

TAHLEQUAH — In this day and age, people can’t be too careful when it comes to handling confidential information, because criminals will go to great lengths to get their hands on bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and more.

To give senior citizens the information they need to protect themselves from scammers, a Senior Fraud Conference was held at Go Ye Village Wednesday.

“This is a population who is on a fixed income,” said Ray Walker, divisional director for the Medicare Assistance Program at the Oklahoma Insurance Department. “So they are stuck with trying to meet their financial needs with what they’ve got.”

There are several means by which fraud can be perpetrated, including Medicare, insurance, investments and banking.

Medical identity theft is one of the fastest-growing types. Scammers can get personal Medicare information by stealing it via a wallet or purse, claiming to be providing free services, impersonating medical providers, and even dumpster diving.

Walker said people with Medicare are most at risk for identity theft, partly because Social Security numbers are still included on Medicare cards.

“If they get ahold of that Medicare card, it’s a two-for[-one],” he said. “Medicare is the biggest payer in insurance claims in the country. Think about it. There are 58 million Medicare beneficiaries. That’s a lot of money in that trust fund. So they want to get into that, because that’s the deep pocket. But at the same time, I’ve got this person’s Social Security number. Let’s see what they’ve got in their savings account.”

Walker said that when “bad guys” get into those savings accounts, the effect is devastating, because they have no way to replenish it.

Another senior-targeting scam focuses on the “distressed grandchild.” The scheme usually starts with a grandparent’s receiving a frantic call from someone believed to be a grandchild.

“‘Billy, is that you?’” said Paul Boyd, of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, describing how the conversation goes. “‘You sound funny.’ ‘I was in a car wreck and broke my nose, so I’ll let you talk to my lawyer.’ Then the guy proceeds to explain that Billy went to Mexico for spring break, got drunk and had a wreck. Now he’s in jail and needs bond money. ‘Oh, and don’t tell dad, because he’ll kill me.’”

Boyd said that’s a pretty common scenario, and seniors often give in, wasting thousands of dollars.

Another way folks can be ripped off is through home repair fraud. Boyd said in one scheme, the caller offers to lay asphalt on driveways. Scammers will offer victims a “good price” for repaving their driveways for “$40 a square.”

“I don’t know what a square of asphalt is, but it’s not any unit of measurement I’ve seen,” said Boyd.

Then after the work is done, scammers will pressure their victims and tell them they now owe $4,000, or else the police will be called.

“And people do it,” said Boyd. “Three days later, when it rains, they find out that what they really did was spray their driveway with used motor oil and a little used gravel. They don’t have even $50 worth of material on it, but they got $4,000 out of it.”

Many people may believe seniors are targeted more often due to decline in cognition, but Walker said nothing could be further from the truth.

“Most seniors are just as cognitive as they were 20 years ago,” he said. “The reason that these bad guys go after them is because that’s the money. Their kids are gone, and they’ve had more time to save up their money. That’s the deep pockets.”

Article source: http://www.theadanews.com/news/local_news/seniors-learn-how-to-protect-themselves-from-identity-theft/article_8988ae45-7cbd-5362-ab91-75e6cad7d24f.html

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Identity theft protection with IKOR

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

(WTNH)-A recent analysis from the personal-finance website, Smart Asset has ranked Connecticut the 5th most vulnerable state in the U.S. for identity theft. The state also has the second-highest number of identity theft complaints in the country. Smart Asset say it’s due to residents holding multiple credit cards and because Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states. Jim Sullivan, owner of IKOR in Fairfield, has some tips to protect seniors and also explained why seniors are targeted:

  • Seniors are less technologically savvy than younger adults and tend not to research scams online
  • Seniors do not closely monitor their credit and financial statements
  • Seniors are cared for by others who might have access to and take advantage of an older adult’s personal records
  • Seniors are have been targeted more and more for identity tax fraud, or when someone files tax returns under victims’ names and received the refunds, often in the thousands of dollars.

Founded in 2000, IKOR is the solution for professionals who find themselves regularly helping families manage short-term health crises and long-term care issues for seniors and individuals with disabilities. IKOR assesses the medical, environmental, psychosocial, vocational and educational aspects of a person’s life to develop a comprehensive care plan, or Life Map, for each client. Today, IKOR offers a full line of Life Care Management services and has nearly 50 operating territories in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

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Article source: http://wtnh.com/2017/07/28/identity-theft-protection-with-ikor/

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Two arrested on burglary, identity theft charges – NEWS10 ABC

Friday, July 28th, 2017

GREENFIELD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police arrested two people in Greenfield they say broke into a home to steal credit cards.

The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office say Aleah Carero and Kile West broke into the home on Locust Grove and stole a phone and credit card. They are then accused of trying to use the card to get cash out of an ATM.

They are both facing burglary, grand larceny, and identity theft charges.

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Article source: http://news10.com/2017/07/27/two-arrested-on-burglary-identity-theft-charges/

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