Today’s TMJ4’s Karen Stiles reports.
Posts tagged ‘Protect’
Top Story: Your kids are at high risk for ID theft – here's how to protect them
If there was ever a time to get ID theft protection, it's now. It turns out that your kids are at greater risk of having their IDs stolen than you are, by far, according to CBS. Criminals are racking up thousands of dollars in kids' names, and ruining …
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Identity Theft Investigation
Watertown, Conn. (WTNH) – Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a man they say is responsible for identity theft. Police say the man walked into a Target store on Chase Avenue on February 16th and opened a Target charge account with …
Read more on WTNH Connecticut News (press release)
Could you fall victim to medical identity theft?
That's precisely what happened to a Flagler County woman who shared with News4Jax about how she became the victim of medical identity theft. More than half a million Americans had their medical identities stolen last year by people desperate for …
Read more on WJXT Jacksonville
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6 tips for seniors to protect themselves from ID theft
It seems like seniors have a target on their foreheads, and ID-theft criminals are taking aim to steal their information and money. Worse yet is that all too often seniors are ID-theft victims at the hands of friends and relatives. Take note and take …
Read more on azcentral.com
Sanford woman faces identity theft and drug charges
Sanford woman faces identity theft and drug charges. Updated 8 hrs ago. SANFORD – A woman wanted on several charges is in the Lee County jail. Fallyn Jude Feeney-Jamison, 31, of the 3200 block of Cole Road in Sanford, had been avoiding capture and …
Read more on Fayetteville Observer
KPD: Cumberland Avenue death follows identity theft
KNOXVILLE — The victim of an accidental death outside a Cumberland Avenue gas station overnight was misidentified because he had stolen the identity of another man, police said. Witnesses told the Knoxville Police Department the victim became …
Read more on Knoxville News Sentinel
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How to protect your child from identity theft
Scary thing is no one is too young to become a victim of identity theft. The youngest reported case — a one-month-old. All a thief needs is your child's social security number. Then identity thieves can open credit card accounts, sign up for utility …
Read more on KREM.com (subscription)
Identity Theft and You
But do you really know as much as you should about identity theft? Are you sure you're doing as much as you can to keep your information safe? On this episode of Industry Focus: Financials, analyst Gaby Lapera talks to Fool techies Sam Davidson and …
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Crossett Man Pleads Guilty In Tax Fraud, Identity Theft
Taylor was one of eight defendants indicted on June 24, 2014 by a federal grand jury as part of an investigation into a tax fraud and identity theft scheme in El Dorado and Crossett. The change of plea was accepted by the Honorable Susan O. Hickey in …
Read more on Ashley COunty Ledger
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Privacy Is Dead: What You Can Still Do to Protect Yourself
When it comes to cybersecurity, we are all in a state of emergency, but the real question is – is anybody listening? Government agencies, retailers, health insurance giants and websites have all been ravaged by hackers, but we haven't seen consumers …
Read more on ABC News
10 ways college students fight ID theft
College is a time of eye-opening experiences, opportunities and challenges. So why let an identity thief ruin it? Identity theft is something you might not know is even happening until you try to apply for a loan or a credit card and get turned down …
Read more on Asbury Park Press
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Not that long ago, people didn’t worry much when they lost a credit card or threw away a bill. They knew they could contact their creditors and straighten it out pretty quickly. But today, you may be a victim of identity theft and not even know it. This malicious crime is also hard to prosecute because it’s difficult to identify and track down the perpetrator.
In 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee issued a report with some surprising statistics about identity theft. They estimated that about 27 million Americans were victims of identity theft from 1999-2004. Half of them didn’t know how the thief had gotten their personal information, although a quarter of them knew that the identity theft resulted from a lost or stolen credit card, checkbook, social security number, or personal mail. A few of the victims even reported that the identity thief had used their personal information to carry out a crime under a false identity.
In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission said that reports of identity theft were up 33% from the year before, that they were aware of over 200,000 cases of identity theft in 2003. States with the most reported cases of identity theft were Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas, and Florida. And for almost three quarters of the fraud cases reported, the use of victims’ personal information was used for credit card, phone or utility, or bank fraud. They also found that, on average, the misuse of victims’ personal information lasted from three to six months and resulted in a total loss of about $ 5 billion to victims, plus over 300 million hours of personal time resolving the problems once discovered.
The 2003 FTC Survey reported over $ 50 billion in losses to business as a result of identity theft. They also reported that, in that year, each victim spent from $ 500 to $ 1200 and from 30 to 60 personal hours to have their credit problems resolved. Unfortunately, there is little hope that this trend will decrease in the near future. Identity theft seems to be getting easier, not harder, and the criminals are learning how to hide their crimes from victims longer and to hide their person from law enforcement altogether.
Unfortunately, there is no single database in the U.S. covering identity theft cases, and the Committee suspects that the number of crimes are vastly underreported. Classifying these crimes as identity theft varies from state to state and from police department to police department. The 2003 study revealed that 60% of victims of identity theft had not reported the crime to their police department! Only one in five had even reported the problem to their credit bureau.
Identity theft crimes are investigated at the federal level by federal agencies like the Secret Service and the FBI. The Department of Justice usually prosecutes the cases through a local U.S. Attorneys’ office. In 2000, U.S. Attorneys reported that they had filed over 2000 cases of identity theft across the country (compare this to the 9 million victims per year). That year, the Secret Service made over 3000 arrests, and average actual loses to victims in cases that were closed equaled over $ 46,000 each. The FBI reported 1425 convictions for identity theft, over a thousand of those for bank fraud. The Postal Inspection Service made a little over 1700 arrests in 2000. Even the IRS reported actual and suspected cases of identity theft in questionable tax returns in 2000, estimating that they had received around 150 thousand fraudulent returns and fraudulent claims for more than $ 750 million in refunds. Today, the federal government recognizes that identity theft is the fastest-growing financial crime in America.
One reason for the apparently low proportion of prosecutions and convictions for identity theft has been the government’s inability to define the specific crimes. In 1998, Congress passed the first law addressing identity theft, the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, making identity theft a named federal crime and making it a little easier to prosecute. The Act made the Federal Trade Commission responsible for receipt of complaints and public education about identity theft.
The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 established penalties for aggravated identity theft, including those instances where identity theft was used to commit more serious crimes. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act to address identity theft and related consumer issues, making it possible for victims to work with creditors and credit bureaus to remove negative information due to identity theft in their credit report. The Internet False Identification Act of 2000 amended the older False Identification Crime Control Act of 1982 to encompass computer-aided false identity crimes. Violators face fines and/or imprisonment for producing or transferring false identification documents.
Experts encourage people to be proactive in taking steps to prevent and discover identity theft. Clearly, keeping it from happening in the first place is far less stressful than trying to resolve issues after identity theft crimes are committed. Here are a few of the things you can do to protect your personal financial information from identity theft criminals:
– Secure your personal information at all times. Don’t leave lists of account numbers unlocked, and don’t share your user IDs or passwords with ANYone. Maintain as much control over your personal financial information as you can.
– Don’t throw mail away if in contains any personal information, including your full name and address. Shred these documents before putting them in the garbage.
– Educate yourself about the techniques and tactics used in identity theft and protect yourself accordingly.
– Don’t share personal account information with anyone, including co-workers, friends, and roommates. Unless they are also responsible for paying your bills, they have no reason to have this information. And don’t give them your passwords without a very good reason. If you do share your passwords, change them as soon as possible.
– Shred unwanted and pre-approved credit applications, and have your name removed from those mailing lists.
– Be careful when you make purchases online to use only secure servers and to carefully guard your information. Do not keep a written list of passwords, and use passwords that are difficult to figure out (rather than something simple like your phone number).
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Identity theft thieves are getting more and more sophisticated in ways to get your credit card info. Marc Stewart talked to an expert who has a simple way to…
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Find out how you can protect yourself from identity theft.
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Credit Monitoring – How does it protect you from identity theft and what service does it really offer?
We have been asked over the past 5 years if Credit Monitoring is worth having and if we can provide this service.
Credit Monitoring is a huge business and with scores being so important it will continue to grow. How many times have you seen promotional offers for the opportunity to get free monitoring of your credit profile? It is so confusing for most to even understand their credit reports let alone what the monitoring services provide and how they can help. The information given by these services is difficult to decipher and can sometimes do more to confuse and scare consumers than help them.
I have been studying these services and learning about them for many years now. The one question I have is how can finding out you are a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud protect you? Once you know you are a victim it is already too late. When you begin to see signs of identity theft on your credit report the damage has already been done. Logically expecting Credit Monitoring to protect you from identity theft would be like studying for an exam after you fail. Identity theft is a process and the last result of it is seeing accounts on your credit report that do not belong to you. These accounts are usually in default with late payments or have gone to the point of collection or charge off.
Collections – are accounts that have not been paid at all and have been sent by the original creditor to a third party collection agency or the collection department of the creditor. Collection agencies may be lent the debt for a commission and if they are successful in collecting funds from the debtor they earn that commission. Other collection agencies buy the debt from the creditor for a reduced amount and they become full owner of whatever is collected. Once you understand this you can also see why they are so aggressive about getting consumers to make payments.
Charge offs- are when creditors write the amount the consumer owes, that has been uncollectable, off as a loss against their profits. This does not mean the consumer no longer owes the money.
So how can credit monitoring stop identity theft? The answer is it can’t. The only thing credit monitoring can do in regards to identity theft is to tell you that it is occurring. Another problem is many consumers buy credit monitoring because they are too busy to learn about their credit or just don’t want the responsibility of understanding it. They think that paying a company to monitor their credit will insure them against any problems. In many cases when the monitoring company alerts them to a new collection or charge off if they don’t recognize the account they just shrug it off as an error and don’t investigate the occurrence until they have a problem getting financing. The lesson is even when having credit monitoring you need to understand, at least, the basics of credit to recognize what is a cause for concern.
We are consistently approached by consumers with this question “I had an alert from my monitoring company. What does this mean?”. Credit monitoring companies provide basic updates to you about changes in your credit. Depending on the company hired and the specific program they offer will determine how you are updated and what information they will give you. Some companies only provide you with info about 1 credit reporting agency. Since there are 3 credit reporting agencies Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax this is just a piece of the information needed to really monitor your credit profile. One of the risks you take when hiring a monitoring service, that provides you with only one report update, is not being able to see if a collection is reported on all bureaus. Many smaller creditor’s like Verizon,Doctors,Dentists, and Health Clubs don’t want to pay the credit reporting agencies to provide each credit profile with this collection info since they will have to pay 3 times for this service. The result is they typically pay one reporting agency instead of all three and only put the collection on that one credit report. If you have picked the report that isn’t updated you will not be aware of this problem until all three reports are pulled. In this case the whole point of monitoring your credit will be lost.
When a monitoring service only alerts you that a change has occurred and does not tell you what the details of the change are we find consumers in a panic. They now know there is a change but don’t have any idea what changed. You can be updated of an alert when a 3rd party pulls your credit profile if you are shopping for a car, home, or business loan. You may be updated with an alert when you open or close an account or have a new late payment. Alerts come when balances change as well. If you don’t have details on what the alert is you will be in a continual state of panic. Credit is not stagnant and with so many changes happening daily these alerts could come all the time, daily, weekly, or monthly depending on how active your credit profile is. You can see there is much homework to do when deciding on a monitoring service. If you are highly educated about your credit and monitoring services it could be helpful for keeping you aware of the general picture of your credit portfolio. If you are uneducated or don’t have the time to keep track of your current credit situation it could be a source of continual anxiety and frustration.
Education is the key to staying updated on your credit and its significance to your financial life. There are other ways to protect yourself against identity theft and credit card fraud and we will address them in this 2 part series.
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