Archive for December, 2017

Are you safe from identity theft? Take our quiz to find out | Grand …

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

But do you understand how identity theft occurs? Are you at risk? Take our short quiz to gauge your knowledge.

Let’s collaborate and evaluate your security settings before clicking that green purchase button on your device.

According to Adobe Analytics, as of Nov. 27, Americans had spent nearly $14 billion online since Thanksgiving Day – with more than half of those purchases coming from mobile devices.

“For many consumers, it’s now second nature to use smartphones and tablets the same way as we use home computers,” says Susan Adams Loyd, president and CEO at the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “However, the same security recommendations that apply to home computers also apply to handheld devices, and there are other factors that need to be considered.”

Iverson says cyber shopping requires consumers to provide more sensitive information like a card number, expiration date and security code. Follow these guidelines in order to keep your personal information safe.

  1. Making purchases via public Wi-Fi connections carries inherent risks. When shopping online from a secure, private Wi-Fi connection, always make sure that you’re on a trustworthy website. If unfamiliar with the site, visit the to research the seller’s reputation and track record for customer satisfaction. When on the site, look in the address box for the “s” in “https://”. When purchasing, look for the “lock” symbol in the lower-right corner of the screen.
  2. Be mindful of hyperlinks. Scammers can use phishing links to install malware on devices. Ensure your device and computer is protected.
  3. Purchase items with a credit card. “When I shop online, I don’t use a debit card. I use a credit card because the funds don’t come immediately out of their account,” Iverson says. “The bank will usually reimburse you for any unauthorized charges, but it might take a little bit of time.” Credit card transactions are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
  4. Cross-check prices between sites. Hendrickson suggests asking yourself, “How could this business offer this product at this price?” He reminds us that “if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
  5. Keep documentation of purchases. Always save confirmation emails, and record the date of sale and any contact information.

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West Springfield police looking for identity theft, fraud suspect …

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – West Springfield police detectives are looking to identify a woman seen in surveillance photos.

Photo courtesy West Springfield Police Department

According to the West Springfield Police Department’s official Facebook page, the woman is an identity theft and credit card fraud suspect.

If you recognize her or have any information, you may leave an anonymous tip with West Springfield police at 413-263-3210.

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Surveillance video helps MPD catch 2 identity theft suspects

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Click Here to access the online Public Inspection File

Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station’s FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC’s online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, 888-835-5322 (TTY), or

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Deputies look for suspects in identity theft at Blue Water Lodge

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

FORT GRATIOT — Someone stole the identity of a resident at the Blue Water Lodge, and county deputies are seeking the public’s help in solving the crime.

According to Sheriff Tim Donnellon, deputies were called to Blue Water Lodge on Keewahdin Road on Nov. 14 for an identity theft complaint. Deputies learned a credit card and cash were stolen from an 87-year-old woman’s apartment at the lodge on Nov. 10.

The credit card was then used by the suspects at two Fort Gratiot Township stores and another in Lapeer. The thieves purchased more than $1500 in merchandise.

The woman’s credit card company contacted her in the early evening Nov. 10, due to suspicious activity and at that point the card was cancelled. 

The suspects later tried to use the card in Saginaw and West Branch, but the card was declined.

If anyone has any information about this identity theft, contact Detective Haley Bonner at (810) 987-1728.  


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St. Johns County woman wanted for identity theft; had personal info …

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

A woman in St. Johns County is being sought on outstanding warrants of eight counts of identity theft. She is also a person of interest in a large-scale St. Augustine mail theft incident.

According to the St.Johns County Sheriff’s Office Courtney Sean O’Meara, 33, is being sought in connection with two outstanding warrants and is a person of interest in a recent forgery investigation.

O’Meara was arrested in August for one count of uttering a forged instrument and was released after posting bond. In that case, she had allegedly stolen a check from a mailbox that belonged to someone else. She failed to appear in court and a no bond warrant was issued in September.

An officer searched O’Meara’s apartment in April when she became a suspect in the large-scale mail fraud case from early 2017. Found was a hand-typed list of 147 people in the surrounding neighborhoods. This list contained their name, address, date of birth, social security number, bank account numbers, and passwords etc. The victims in the mail fraud case were not listed, according to a warrant from the Sheriff’s Office.

She is also a person of interest in the theft of a St. Augustine woman’s checkbook and the cashing of three fraudulent checks.

It is unclear how many people she may have victimized and how much money she may have stolen.

Read this First Coast News story.

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Protecting your personal information from identity theft

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

As the holiday season approaches, it becomes increasingly important for consumers to exercise caution to protect financial information.

Doing so can keep a cheerful time of year from turning into a financial nightmare.

Sensitive information can be obtained improperly in various ways, most often through scams involving unsolicited phone calls or emails, online shopping and hacking.

Scammers can use information — including full names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers — to wreak financial havoc.

Consumers should be wary if someone calls and asks for personal information. Often, the caller will impersonate someone from a financial institution or government agency and tell the consumer they owe money. Scammers will also sometimes strike through emails requesting personal information by pretending to be someone they are not.

Online shopping offers convenience, but may also open the door for those who would steal personal information. Disreputable sites may offer goods at prices that are too good to be true, but could end up costing shoppers much more if their financial information is stolen.

Especially around the holidays, phishing scams often appear in the form of online coupons. Clicking the link on a digital coupon may redirect users to another, non-secure site.

In September, we learned of a massive data breach affecting an estimated 145.5 million consumers. It took place when hackers obtained sensitive information by targeting Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit bureau monitoring agencies. More than 730,000 West Virginians were potentially impacted by the breach.

The action of my office and those of other state attorneys general led to an extended deadline to enroll for free credit reports and identity theft protection offered by Equifax. We’re also very involved in other matters pertaining to the Equifax breach, but the chance that hackers may now possess sensitive data increases the threat of identity theft for those impacted.

In the wake of this event — and in other instances when identity theft could happen — it is more important than ever for consumers to be aware of the risks and protect their information from those who wish to use it unlawfully.

Consumer protection must begin with the individual.

There are many warning signs to alert consumers of potential identity theft. Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, unfamiliar accounts or charges on credit reports and receiving bills from medical providers for services a consumer didn’t use can all indicate that personal identifiable information has been compromised.

Consumers also should carefully review their account statements. This can aid in spotting potential identity theft. Any transactions not initiated by the account holder should be reported to the financial institution as quickly as possible. Once a loss or unauthorized use of an ATM or debit card is reported, federal law dictates consumers cannot be held liable for unofficial transfers of more than $50 thereafter.

Closely monitoring credit reports is another way to discover identity theft.

Online shoppers also should use reputable websites and look for “https” at checkout as the “s” denotes a secure connection.

Don’t sacrifice security for a good deal.

Through consumer education and careful guarding of personal financial information, holiday shopping can be a safe and enjoyable activity.

(Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.)

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Man charged with bank fraud, ID theft via social media pleads guilty – WAVY

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News man could face up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty this week to conspiracy and identity theft charges.

Federal authorities say Markis Jordan Dickerson conspired with Christopher Douglas Boone and others to get money from several financial institutions.

Boone and Dickerson recruited account holders through social media — and asked for access to their debit cards and ID numbers for a certain amount of time in exchange for money.

Authorities say the two would first deposit worthless and counterfeit checks into those accounts through “mobile deposit” online banking applications.

They’d then withdraw cash from ATMs and buy items from retailers with the fraudulently deposited money, both carrying firearms during those transactions.

Dickerson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to a maximum of 30 years in prison, in addition to a mandatory consecutive two-year term when sentenced on March 29, 2018.

WAVY News will keep you posted on Boone’s case.

Read the federal indictment

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Young People and Identity Theft: Nine Ways to Reduce Your Chances of Falling Victim to This Crime

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017
Identity Theft Word Cloud (UCLA)

Hoboken, NJ — Every day it seems like there’s news about a new scam or scheme allowing hackers to steal your personal information. Yes, this onslaught of bad news is alarming, but it serves a useful purpose: It reminds you that identity theft can happen to anyone—especially if you’re young. A study by Javelin Strategy Research found that young adults are at significantly greater risk for identity theft than people in other age groups. And financial expert and best-selling author Eric Tyson, MBA, says this fact alone is reason enough to take preventive action.

“Advances in technology and the rise of social media have changed how identity thieves obtain sensitive information,” says Tyson, author of Personal Finance in Your 20s 30s For Dummies® (Wiley, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43141-1, $19.99). “That means if you’re a young person, you’re at greater risk than ever before, and burying your head in the sand only increases your chances of falling victim to this type of crime.”

Tyson explains that social networking websites—popular among millennials—promote the sharing of personal information, thereby posing a greater risk for their users. This same group is also more likely to experience friendly fraud, in which the perpetrator knows the victim firsthand. Finally, younger people are less likely to closely monitor their accounts and credit reports, meaning they detect fraud much later than their older counterparts.

Tyson says you must be proactive in preventing your personal information and accounts (bank, investment, credit, and debit) from being accessed for identity theft and fraud.

“I speak from personal experience,” he explains. “The first time it happened to me was in my late 20s when a crook withdrew money from my checking account by using personal information that was stolen from my wife’s employer’s payroll department. This is but one of many ways you can fall victim to identity theft. In other cases, someone might open an account, such as a credit card, using someone’s stolen personal information.”

Typically, he says, cases of identity theft create some short-term hassle and costs. But in some situations, the consequences can be long-term and costly. Victims of identity theft can suffer trashed credit reports, reduced ability to qualify for loans and even jobs (with employers who check credit reports), out-of-pocket costs, and numerous hours of time to clean up the mess.

As scary as identity theft can be, Tyson says there are several things you can do to protect yourself. Follow these nine tips to greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to identity theft:

Don’t share your personal information over the phone.Unless you initiated the call and you well know the company or person on the other end of the line, you should never respond to requests for personal information (such as your Social Security number, credit card account number, address, passwords, etc.). Also, be suspicious of incoming calls that your caller ID identifies as coming from a certain business, because scammers have now found ways to trick caller ID systems. Unless you recognize the number, let the call go to voicemail.

“Suppose you get a call from someone saying he is with Chase credit card services and is calling about a problem with your credit card account,” says Tyson. “If you have an account with Chase, ask the caller to provide you with his contact information and name. End the call; then get out your credit card, call the phone number listed on the back of your card, and ask the representative you speak with to verify whether the call you received was legitimate or not.”

Steer clear of emails seeking personal information or action. Phishing is a growing problem and one you’ve probably heard of before. Online scammers continue to get more creative and harder to detect all the time. To extract sensitive information from you, they can generate an email address (or even a text message) that looks like it comes from someone you know or a trusted institution. This information could include passwords, usernames, credit card information, and bank account details. If you click on the link provided in their message and then give them the requested information, you will likely be the victim of identity theft.

“My best advice to avoid phishing scams is to never click on links in emails,” shares Tyson. “Access your online accounts only by typing in the website’s URL yourself or by using your own created bookmarks. If you’re unsure a message is legitimate, you can always reach out to the person or institution and check. But don’t reply to the actual email—find another way to contact them, such as via telephone.”

Pay attention to your monthly financial statements. Your financial institutions may alert you if they notice any unusual activity on your accounts. However, every month you should take some time to review the transactions in your credit card, checking account, and other financial accounts. Don’t take for granted that your financial institutions will catch everything. Look over the activity to make sure all the transactions are yours. Many people have discovered suspicious activity by doing this simple monthly task.

“A good way to simplify this process is by closing unnecessary accounts,” explains Tyson. “The more credit cards and credit lines you have, the more likely you are to have problems with identity theft and to overspend and carry debt balances. Unless you maintain a separate card for small business transactions (or carry an extra card or two due to the rewards those cards offer you), you really need only one piece of plastic with a Visa or MasterCard logo.”

Periodically check your credit reports. A number of people have found out about credit accounts opened in their name by reviewing their credit reports. Each of the three major credit agencies is required to provide you with a free credit report each year. So you could review one report every four months to keep tabs on your reports—without having to pay.

“Is it necessary to review your credit reports that frequently, and do I personally do this?” says Tyson. “The answer to both of those questions is no! But, you may want to scrutinize your reports that often if you’ve had problems or otherwise have reason to be concerned about the security and integrity of your credit.”

Freeze your credit reports. Many states allow consumers to freeze their credit information (usually for a small fee). Why might you want to do this? Freezing your credit information puts you in complete control of who may gain access to your report. But, be aware that this also means you have to give permission every time someone wants to examine your report (unless you place a temporary thaw on your account).

Avoid placing personal information on checks. Information that you shouldn’t put on your checks includes your driver’s license number, Social Security number, and credit card account number. This type of information can be useful to identity thieves. Tyson also encourages leaving off your home address. Remember that everyone whose hands your check passes through gets free access to that information.

“When writing a check, be cautious of anyone asking you to add personal information to the check,” says Tyson. “Question the need for adding the personal information and know that in numerous states, it’s against the law to request and place credit card numbers on checks. Use a debit card instead for such transactions.”

Safeguard your computer and other devices. Most of us have financial and personal data on our computer we wouldn’t want others having access to. Use up-to-date virus protection software and a firewall. Also, don’t forget to password protect your programs and files. (You probably know this, but don’t use obvious or simple passwords such as birthdates, names, addresses, and simple number combinations like “1234.”)

“Is the internet connection you’re using secure?” asks Tyson. “Try to avoid accessing personal accounts on public networks—especially those that have no security protection. And be cautious of using your cellphone to log in to your accounts as well.”

Be aware of what information you’re sharing with the (social media) world.Most millennials use social media websites and apps to communicate. And these sites promote the sharing of information. Stay alert to what personal information you may be putting out there for others to see. Before sharing personal details, ask yourself if you would be comfortable with strangers knowing this particular information. If the answer is no, you may want to rethink giving it out.

Also, Tyson urges you to take note of what information your apps and social websites are collecting from you. Many people are unaware of how much information websites and apps glean from you. For example, certain apps on your cellphone (like Facebook), can keep track of your location and have access to your camera and the contacts stored on your phone. Think about what information is necessary for the site to have. Many of these sites will allow you to go into your settings and turn off their access to some information.

Protect your snail mail. Most young people are accustomed to doing most tasks online, so many focus on protecting only their digital information. But stealing postal mail is still a common way identity thieves get hold of your personal information. Stealing postal mail is pretty easy, especially from a curbside mailbox.

“To protect your mail from theft, consider using a locked mailbox or a post-office box,” advises Tyson. “Or eliminate mail delivery of paper copies by having your statements sent to you via email or accessing them online. Also, you may want to get a shredder for any documents you want to dispose of.”

“Having your identity stolen and then going through the recovery process is a huge hassle, but it’s one that can be avoided,” concludes Tyson. “Once you realize how vulnerable you really are, it’s easy to take the extra steps to safeguard your information. Protect yourself today and you’ll be far less likely to lose your money and get stuck cleaning up the mess.”


About the Author:
Eric Tyson, MBA, is an internationally acclaimed and best-selling personal finance author, counselor, and writer. He is the author of five national best-selling financial books including Investing For Dummies, Personal Finance For Dummies, andHome Buying Kit For Dummies. He has appeared on NBC’s Today show, ABC, CNBC, FOX News, PBS, and CNN, and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio shows and print publications.

About the Book:
Personal Finance in Your 20s 30s For Dummies® (Wiley, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43141-1, $19.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on

Source: DeHart Co.


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St. Johns County woman wanted for identity theft; had personal info …

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

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St. Johns County woman wanted for identity theft; had personal info of at least 147 people

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

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