Thursday, 10 August 2017 07:36

College Students at High Risk for Identity Theft

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College Students at High Risk for Identity Theft

In 2014, 22 percent of college students received notifications that they had been victims of identity theft fraud, according to research by Javelin Strategy and Research. The students discovered their situation after being denied credit or being contacted by a debt collector. The percentage of students victimized was three times higher than the average. Additionally, students were four times more likely to be victimized by someone they knew. Identity thieves use many methods to steal personal data from students, including “shoulder surfing,” a technique in which a thief looks over the victim’s shoulder to view ATM numbers, and by sending out fake credit card offers asking for detailed personal information. Students can protect themselves by taking some simple steps. For example, they should only give out personal information on a “need to know” basis to as few people as possible. Social Security cards and driver’s licenses should not be carried together, and credit cards or ATM cards should never be loaned to anyone. Students should also take care to avoid over-sharing of personal details with people they do not know well.

Resources

“College Students Face a High Risk of Identity Theft,” Jonathan Berr, Consumer Reports

 

Psychic in Connecticut Indicted on ID Theft, Forgery Charges in New York City

Janet Lee, also known as “The Greenwich Psychic,” has been indicted on charges of identity theft, forgery, and criminal possession of a forged instrument, according to Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Manhattan District Attorney. The charges claims that Lee, 43, was involved in a real estate scam concerning a high-priced apartment in SoHo. She is charged with using stolen identity information and using it to get an apartment under a different name and identity. She falsely signed the victim’s name at least 60 times on the lease agreement and rental application for the one-bedroom apartment, which rented for $6,000 per month. Lee has presented herself for some time as having psychic abilities and offered her counseling and advice services to n numerous wealthy people.

Resources

“Greenwich psychic indicted in NYC forgery, ID theft case,” Robert Marchant, Greenwich Time

 

Former Member of US Air Force Convicted of Identity Theft

A former United States Air Force member received a sentence of four years in a conviction for identity crime involving the theft and distribution of the personal information of other service members. Ronnie Allen II, 26, was found guilty of two counts of identity theft, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of access device fraud. The jury trial, presided over by US District Judge Matthew Kennelly, sentenced Allen to 48 months in prison. Allen, a resident of North Carolina, was enlisted in the US Air Force and worked in the maintenance group of Mountain Home Air Force Based located in Boise, Idaho. According to the prosecution, All downloaded the “Alpha Roster,” a database containing personally identifiable information of over 1,400 Air Force members assigned to the base, two weeks before his discharge at the end of January 2013. Allen sent the information using his work email account to his personal email account, ultimately sending it to Antorondi Benion of Bellwood in hopes of selling it. Benion used the stolen identity information to open numerous financial accounts and to take over existing accounts; prosecutors said he opened at least 63 accounts using the names of 35 victims between April 2013 and January 2016, for losses to them totaling $103,389. Benion later pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft and was sentenced to 70 months in prison.

 Resources

"Former Air Force member gets 4 years for identity theft," Chicago Sun-Times

Law to Protect Foster Children from ID Theft Signed in Michigan

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that created the Foster Child Identification Theft Protection Act, which imposes requirements on caseworkers to ask for a yearly report designed to monitor credit-related activities for every foster child assigned to their care. The bill was passed unanimously by both the state's House and Senate chambers.

In 2014, over 17 million individuals fell victim to identity theft, and children in foster care are especially vulnerable to this crime. Their unstable environment, which requires them to move often from one foster home to another, allows many adults to have access to their personal information. In most cases, these children are unaware that their identities have been stolen until they are out of the foster care system years later and attempt to establish a credit history.

According to State Representative Robert Kosowski (D-Westland), the bill's author, the bill represents common-sense legislation; currently, there is no monitoring of the children's credit scores, and many have already experienced terrible things in their live, including abuse and neglect. The last thing they need, says Kosowski, is being victimized by identity thieves and having their credit ruined.

He went on to say that the state owed foster children the best start for their adult lives as possible, and that legislation will help them avoid the repercussions of identity theft, allowing them to apply for college loans or bank accounts without problems.

Resources

“Child identity theft law signed,” Hometown Life

 

U.S. Legislators Grill Wells Fargo CEO for “Identity Theft”

John Stumpf , the CEO of Wells Fargo, was called before the United States Congress to answer questions about the bank's breach of the public trust via activities characterized as fraud and identity theft.

The grilling of Stumpf followed a fine of $185 million imposed in September 2016 on the bank for its practice of opening fee-generating accounts without authorization from customers. Bank employees were instructed to cross-sell account products aggressively to meet high sales objectives, and fake accounts were opened using the personal data of customers without their knowledge. In some cases, customers' credit ratings dropped when they failed to make payments on credit accounts they did not know they had.

Representative Maxine Waters, ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said that the bank's abuse of the public trust was "some of the most egregious fraud we have seen since the foreclosure crisis." She went on to compare the actions to “mass identity theft.”

To date, Wells Fargo has lost over $20 billion of its market value, and the State of California ha suspended all state business previously done with the bank for one year. The U.S. Department of Labor has announced it will make an exhaustive review of the bank to ensure it had not violated any wage laws by failing to compensate sales employees who were forced to meet the high sales quotas. And the Securities and Exchange Commission is also pondering whether to conduct an investigation into whether Wells Fargo misled its investors.

A group of former Wells Fargo workers has filed a $7.2 billion lawsuit against the bank, claiming they were dismissed from their jobs for blowing the whistle on there practices.

Resources

“Wells Fargo CEO Roasted on Capitol Hill for 'Egregious Fraud', 'Identity Theft',” Lucy Bayly, NBC News

 

Wednesday, 05 October 2016 03:43

Identity Theft Protection: The Basics

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Identity Theft Protection: The Basics

Over 17 million people become victims of identity theft each year, with individuals over the age of 50 being especially at risk. With a growing number of data breaches reported annually, it is important to take steps toward protection against identity crimes.

Most identity theft occurs in the form of account takeovers or identity takeovers. Account takeover is the most common. It involves the fraudulent utilization of an existing open account and includes theft of credit card numbers or hacking into online banking accounts. Identity takeover occurs when an criminal opens new accounts using the name of an actual individual without that individual's knowledge. For example, a social security number is used to receive medical care In the name of the number's real owner, who will then be stuck with the bill.

  • While it is impossible to prevent identity theft, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of it happening to you.
  • Avoid sharing your social security number with anyone, and be especially wary of providing it to a hospital or physician's office.
  • Only use your home computer to conduct online banking. Make sure your anti-virus protection is up to date, and never open attachments or clicking links in suspicious email messages.
  • Be leery of telephone calls that purport to come from the Internal Revenue Service or Microsoft, especially if the caller demands personal or payment information. Hang up on these calls.
  • Consider putting a credit freeze on your credit reports at all three of the major credit bureaus. This can be especially useful if you don't plan to apply for any credit cards, mortgages, or loans in the near future.
  • Take care when using your mobile phone for banking on public Wi-Fi networks. Use the cellular network or personal Wi-Fi network that includes a password. Do not share your social security number, logins,or other financial information with friends or family members.

By taking these few steps, the risk of identity theft can be reduced significantly.

Resources

“Identity Theft: How To Protect Yourself Or Resolve It,” Nick Clements, Forbes

 

Federal Judge Remands Experian Data Breach Lawsuit to California State Court

A federal judge in California has dismissed and remanded a suit against Experian Data Corporation and Infosearch LLC concerning an alleged data breach that exposed personal information held the firms' databases to identity thieves. The judge sent Patton v. Experian back to the state court, stating that the plaintiffs did not show "injury-in-fact" as required by the U.S. Ninth Circuit.

Federal District judge James V. Selna ruled that the Ninth Circuit's opinion in the case of Krottner v. Starbucks Corp. required evidence of a "credible" and "real and immediate" threat of identity theft to meet the injury-in-fact requirement. According to the judge, the plaintiffs did not allege that any identity thief accessed their personal data as a result of Hieu Minh Ngo's alleged breach of the companies' databases. The plaintiffs' "speculative fear" of ID theft does not meet the "credible" and "real and immediate" threat of harm threshold, so the court dismissed the action for a lack of "subject-matter jurisdiction."

Judge Selna also stated that the remand to a state court is not futile and that the companies cannot attempt to remove the action to a federal court again, since it has already been established that the district court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction.

Read more

Experian Data Breach Suit Remanded To Calif. State Court

 

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