You should be very careful with your boarding passes for flights. The bar code on the pass can be used by identity thieves to obtain your personal and frequent flyer account information. You should retain these boarding passes until you are in a position to shred or otherwise destroy in a complete manner.
Medical identity theft and tax refund fraud are also not always specifically addressed in identity theft services, GAO explained.
With regard to the two Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breaches from 2015, GAO stated that the level of insurance coverage provided was “likely unnecessary because claims paid rarely exceed a few thousand dollars.”
OPM announced on June 4, 2015 that it had been the victim of a cyber attack. The agency then reported one month later that a significantly greater number of individuals were affected by a “separate but related” cybersecurity breach.
Approximately 21.5 million individuals were affected, with some of the compromised information including “identification details such as Social Security Numbers, residency and educational history, employment history, information about immediate family and other personal acquaintances, health, criminal and financial history.”
“Millions of individuals, through no fault of their own, had their personal information stolen and we’re committed to standing by them, supporting them, and protecting them against further victimization,” Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management Beth Cobert said in a statement. And as someone whose own information was stolen, I completely understand the concern and frustration people are feeling.”
GAO stated in its report that OPM provided duplicative identity theft services for about 3.6 million people affected by both of its 2015 breaches.
“Contrary to key operational practices previously identified by GAO, OPM’s data-breach-response policy does not include criteria or procedures for determining when to offer identity theft services, and OPM has not always documented how it chose to offer them in response to past breaches, which could hinder informed decision making in the future,” GAO wrote.
“In the private sector, companies often offer consumers affected by a data breach complimentary identity theft services for reasons other than mitigating the risk of identity theft, such as avoiding liability or complying with state law.”
Identity theft services typically include one or more areas of assistance, such as credit monitoring, identity monitoring, and identity restoration, GAO explained. Medical identity theft, identity theft refund fraud, and certain other threats involving stolen personal information are generally not included.
“Evaluation and analysis of these services by both federal and private-sector entities is limited and tends to focus on outputs (such as contractor performance) rather than outcomes (such as reduction of harm from identity theft),” the report noted.
Out of the 26 identity theft services that GAO reviewed, the agency stated that only one “expressly addressed” medical identity theft.
“That product works with the explanation-of-benefits delivery system of the user’s health insurer to alert the user every time a claim is made against the user’s health plan benefits,” the report said. “Users can flag a claim as suspicious if, for example, they do not recognize the procedure or health care provider, and the company then will investigate the claim.”
Additionally, the service is offered as a benefit by health insurers to their members instead of offered directly to consumers.
OPM did not provide many details to GAO in what type of services it offered following the 2015 breaches.
“The current officials told us that they could not find any formal documentation related to the decision to offer identity theft services or the process leading up to this decision,” GAO wrote. “The agency was able to identify a document comparing past public- and private-sector entities’ responses to breaches that may have been considered when determining which services OPM should offer after the second data breach (of background investigation records).”
OPM has previously been investigated for its large data breaches, with reports finding that certain preventative measures could have helped to potentially prevent the incidents.
Toward the end of 2016, an OIG report found that a failure to prioritize cybersecurity and adequately secure high value data helped contribute to the data breaches taking place.
Additionally, the OPM Inspector General (IG) warned the agency as early as 2005 that the information it maintained was potentially vulnerable to hackers.
OPM had an “absence of an effective managerial structure to implement reliable IT security policies,” and also “failed to implement the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) longstanding requirement to use multi-factor authentication for employees and contractors who log on to the network.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Former IRS agent Joan D. Mobley, 54, of Socorro pled guilty this week in Albuquerque to a false statement charge and two aggravated identity theft charges in connection with faking the completion of taxpayer audits and falsely signing documents of taxpayers claiming they agreed to pay additional taxes.
Mobley faces up to five years in prison on the false statements charge and a mandatory two-year term on each aggravated identity theft charge that must be served consecutive to any sentence on the false statements charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Under the terms of her plea deal, Mobley is required to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $39,738.32. The release did not specify how Mobley benefited from her acts.
Mobley began working for the IRS in 1986 and was a revenue agent at the IRS office in Albuquerque at the time she committed the crimes to which she pleaded guilty.
A federal grand jury filed a 28-count indictment in 2014 charging Mobley with 14 counts of making false statements and 14 counts of aggravated identity theft.
Mobley falsely stated and represented to the IRS that certain taxpayers either had consented to extending the time for assessing employment taxes or agreed to the collection and assessment of additional taxes, according to the indictment.
Mobley acknowledged in court that, instead of completing an audit as required, she falsified records to show it completed. Mobley also acknowledged signing the name of the business’s president on the records.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney and Cordale Lamb of Denver Field Division of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The IRS released its annual list of most wanted tax scams. Being educated on these will help keep you from getting ripped off.
Danny Vena (TMFLifeIsGood) Mar 4, 2017 at 6:07PM
Each year in early February, to coincide with the beginning of tax season, the IRS compiles a list of the most common scams that taxpayers may fall victim to. While you may encounter these at any time during the year, occurrences tend to spike during filing season.
There are many fraudsters out there who would rather take your hard-earned money than make their own. A little caution and skepticism will go a long way toward ensuring they don’t. Read on to learn the scams the IRS wants you to look out for this tax season.
Tax return 1040 and refund check.
DON’T BECOME A STATISTIC! EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THESE DIRTY DOZEN TAX SCAMS. IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.
1. Phishing schemes
Phishing schemes typically involve an email you receive that appears to be from a bank, credit card provider, or other company that you do business with. Be on your guard, as it may be from a scammer. These emails often look all too real, and they ask you to go to some website and update your personal information. The scammers will then use that information — whether it’s your Social Security number, your online passwords, or your bank account information — to defraud you. Be especially wary of any email that claims to be from the IRS, as the agency typically communicates with taxpayers by mail. Never provide your personal information unless you are absolutely sure who you’re dealing with.
2. Phone scams
A variation on phishing schemes, these scams involve a phone call that you receive from someone posing as an IRS agent. They may be aggressive or threatening, demanding that you pay some fictitious tax bill by sending cash, making a wire transfer, or providing a credit card number. They will try to intimidate you, threatening you with arrest, deportation, or the loss of your driver’s license. The IRS almost always communicates with taxpayers by mail, and it will never, ever ask for payment over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up!
3. Identity theft
Identity theft involves an unauthorized person using your information for their own financial gain. Around tax filing season, crooks will try to obtain your Social Security number and other information using some other scam or hack. They will then file a phony tax return in your name in order to steal your refund. The IRS has partnered with state tax agencies and those in the tax preparation industry to enact safeguards to prevent this fraud. There are signs of progress, as the number of complaints involving stolen identities on tax returns fell by 50% compared to the prior year. Guarding your Social Security number from unauthorized use is the most effective prevention. The IRS provides these recommendations to protect your personal data: “Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.” .
4. Return preparer fraud
This is the tax preparer equivalent of offering to sell you a discounted Rolex in an alley. The majority of CPAs and other tax preparers are honest, hard-working folks just trying to make a living. However, there are perpetrators out there who hang out a phony shingle every tax season to prey on unsuspecting tax filers. Additionally, there those tax preparers who mean well but aren’t qualified.
There are a few ways to protect yourself. Always ask the preparer if they have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which they are required to obtain from the IRS. You can also check their credentials using the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. Be sure to ask to e-file and never sign a blank return — this is the tax return equivalent of signing a blank check. Once your signature is on the document, a dishonest preparer could divert your refund to their own account, and you’d never know. Review your return thoroughly, ask questions about anything that is unclear, and be sure to sign it when you are done.
5. Fake charities
Americans love to support worthy causes they believe in. The problem is that some aren’t so worthy. There are fake charities out there that prey on human kindness by taking in donations but never doing a bit of charitable work. They sometimes have names remarkably similar to those of real charities, and they frequently set up shop immediately after natural disasters and solicit donations from unsuspecting people who are trying to help. They may also call you or show up at your front door. You wouldn’t hand your wallet to a stranger on the street, so never make donations in person or over the phone to someone you don’t know. Don’t give your credit card number or bank information unless you initiate the call, and never give out passwords. Reputable charities can be confirmed by using the IRS Select Check search tool of tax-exempt charities.
Be on the lookout, not only when filing your tax return, but throughout the year. As scammers get more and more creative, educating yourself is one way to be sure you don’t become a victim. It has been said that nothing is certain but death and taxes. You can be equally sure that scammers will be happy to relieve you of some of your hard-earned cash if you let them. Being vigilant and playing by the rules is key to preventing financial insecurity.
The $6,269 tax bonus millions of Americans completely overlook
Taxes can be confusing and downright miserable. But a handful of “tax tricks” could help millions of Americans save thousands of dollars. That’s free money you could be leaving on the table. For example: the IRS believes that a full 20% of eligible Americans miss out on a tax break worth up to $6,269… each year! Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.
By: Elizabeth Harrington
The Washington Free Beacon
The Social Security Administration puts millions of Americans at risk for identity theft by putting their full Social Security Numbers on letters sent in the mail.
The agency’s inspector general released an audit this week warning the government that by sending hundreds of millions of letters containing individual’s Social Security Numbers it puts them at risk for identity theft.
“According to [the Social Security Administration] SSA, in 2015, it mailed about 233 million notices that included individuals’ full SSN,” the inspector general said. “We recognize SSA’s efforts can never eliminate the potential that dishonest individuals may inappropriately acquire and misuse SSNs. However, our audit and investigative work have shown that the more SSNs are unnecessarily used, the higher the probability that they could be used inappropriately.”
“The security of beneficiaries’ [Personally Identifiable Information] PII should be foremost, and as a Federal agency and public servant, we believe SSA should be in the forefront of establishing policy and practice by limiting SSN use and disclosure,” the audit said.
Sixty-six percent of the 352 million notices the agency sent out last year contained Americans’ full Social Security Numbers, and the government said it has no idea how many never made it to the correct address.“While it is unknown how many of the intended addressees received these notices, our audit work has shown that the addresses in SSA’s records can be inaccurate,” the inspector general said
“We asked SSA whether it maintained any estimates on the number of mailings that were returned as undeliverable. SSA stated that it did not have any Agency-level number on undeliverable mail,” they said. “SSA could not provide us an estimate of the number of notices with SSNs it mails annually that do not reach the intended recipients and are not returned to SSA.”
The inspector general warned that notices sent to the wrong address can increase identify theft, as it can give strangers access to vital personal information. “Notices intercepted by unintended recipients could provide SSA beneficiaries’ names, addresses, and SSNs to individuals other than the numberholders,” they said.
Auditors said they do not currently have documented proof of identity theft that has occurred as a result of agency letters going to the wrong address, though the agency acknowledged “there is a risk of identity theft anytime it sends correspondence that contains PII.”
The inspector general said identity theft is “one of the fastest-growing crimes” in the country.”
“With a stolen SSN, identity thieves can commit any number of financial crimes in the victim’s name or steal money from the victim,” the audit said. “If the victim is a senior citizen, the thief could even target their Social Security benefits.”
“SSA acknowledges that identity thieves may obtain another’s personal information by stealing their mail or rummaging through their trash,” the inspector general concluded. “It is, therefore, troubling that SSA continues including the full SSN on the majority of its mailings.”
By Stewart Welch
on August 03, 2016 at 4:21 PM, updated August 03, 2016 at 4:33 PM
Stewart Welch Founder of The Welch Group, which specializes in fee-only investment advice to families throughout the country. Contact welchgroup.com
AL.com recently reported on the arrest of a two-man Detroit theft ring who were in possession of 177 stolen identities. Identity theft continues to be a growing multi-billion-dollar problem. I feel like the wildebeest crossing the crocodile infested Mara River. I’m only protected by the law of large numbers. What are your best moves to protect yourself from identity theft? First, understand that attacks come from primarily two fronts:
Unauthorized charges against your existing bank or credit accounts. I’ve personally had my credit card stolen on a Saturday night and by the time I discovered it on Sunday, there were over $1,000 of unauthorized charges. I’ve also had my information used to make internet charges for several thousand dollars. In both cases the credit card company did not hold me responsible. Your best defense is to closely monitor all of your banking and credit card accounts. For my credit cards I set up text alerts anytime a charge of over $25 is made. For bank accounts I log in every couple of days and scan recent activity. Easy, quick, effective.
Tip: Fraudulent credit card charges are typically easy to handle with little or no losses to you. Debit cards are an entirely different story. If a thief uses your debit card information to purchase something or access your ATM, that money is gone from your checking account and won’t be restored until your bank goes through an investigative process. This can take weeks and you’ll be out the money until it’s resolved. If you have and use a debit card, guard it and your information very closely and I recommend monitoring your account activity on a daily basis. If there is a problem, you’ll want to catch it early.
Use your information to open new credit in your name. While this has never happened to me, it can be devastating to your personal finances. If this happens the burden shifts to you to prove you didn’t open the account. Your first line of defense should be to order your credit reports from each of Experian.com,Transunion.com and Equifax.com. Look for any unfamiliar accounts. These reports are free once every twelve months so a good idea is to order from one of the services every four months. You may also want to consider hiring a monitoring service which will alert you immediately if new credit is requested in your name. Each of these credit bureaus offer a monitoring service as do independent companies such as LifeLock.com. Fees range from around $15 to $30 per month. For quick access to your free annual credit reports, visitAnnualCreditReport.com.
Tip: If someone has stolen your credit information or you suspect you are vulnerable to theft, you can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your account. Fraud alerts are good for ninety days and then are automatically removed unless you re-establish them. This alerts any company seeking your credit file that you may be a victim of fraud and they should take extra precautions to verify that new or additional credit requests are valid. A credit freeze is designed to prevent your credit file from being released without your expressed permission. Credit freezes are ‘good until cancelled’ and you have the option to ‘temporarily’ remove the freeze if, for example, you are applying for a loan or additional credit. If you have been a victim of credit fraud, there is generally no charge for these services; otherwise a small charge may apply.
SALISBURY — A man who was charged in April with stealing items from a house under construction has now been charged with identity theft.
Kevin Shawn Hurley, 28, of the 200 block of Bee Lake Drive, was arrested May 25 during a traffic stop at Providence Church Road and Poole Road by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office for a variety of charges.
Hurley was charged with possession and use of a North Carolina driver’s license in the name of Joshua Hurst for the purpose of getting pseudoephedrine from area pharmacies.
He was also charged with trafficking in stolen identities for transferring Kenneth Boone Jr. the driver’s license for Hurst, with the intent to assist them in getting pseudoephedrine from area pharmacies.
Pseudoephedrine is a primary component in making methamphetamine. People buying pseudoephedrine are required to show identification during such purchases. Due to state laws regulating the frequency of buying pseudoephedrine, people use stolen identities to disguise their purchases.
When the Sheriff’s Office issued arrest warrants on Hurley on May 17, Hurley avoided capture for multiple days. On May 24, with the Sheriff’s Office in pursuit, Hurley broke into a residence in the 300 block of Bee Lake Drive to avoid apprehension.
A homeowner discovered Hurley inside and Hurley then fled the residence. For this event, Hurley was charged with breaking and entering and possession of drug paraphernalia. Hurley left behind syringes, spoons and smoking pipes at the location.
At the time of Hurley’s arrest in the traffic stop he was found in possession of a small amount of cocaine and charged with felony possession of cocaine.
Bond was set at $52,500 on these initial charges.
On May 26, Hurley was charged with two counts of failure to appear/comply and given an additional $18,000 bond.
Hurley was convicted of felony breaking and entering in Stanly County in 2007 and in Rowan County in 2013, and was charged again in October 2015 with larceny. In March, he was charged with felony breaking and entering. In April, he and Shannon Lisbeth Herlocker were charged with breaking and entering a house under construction and taking appliances.
– See more at: http://www.salisburypost.com/2016/05/31/man-charged-with-identity-theft-has-history-of-breaking-and-entering/#sthash.CHS79OO3.dpuf
Stole Identities from D.C. Government Agency for Use in Filing False Tax Returns
A resident of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced today to four years in prison after pleading guilty in January for his involvement in a far-reaching identity theft and tax fraud scheme in which he assisted in the filing of fraudulent federal income tax returns seeking more than $4.4 million in refunds, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Division and Assistant Inspector General for Investigations John L. Phillips of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Marc A. Bell, 49, a former employee of the District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), admitted taking part in a massive and sophisticated identity theft and false tax return scheme that involved an extensive network of more than 130 people, many of whom were receiving public assistance. According to court documents, the scheme involved the filing of at least 12,000 fraudulent federal income tax returns that sought refunds of at least $42 million from the U.S. Treasury. The false tax returns sought refunds for tax years 2005 through 2013 and were often filed in the names of people whose identities had been stolen, including the elderly, people in assisted living facilities, drug addicts and incarcerated individuals. Refunds also were sent to people who were willing participants in the scheme. The refunds listed more than 400 “taxpayer” addresses located in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
According to documents filed with the court, from 2005 to 2013, Bell was employed as a program manager, program officer or placement expeditor at the District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). The agency is responsible for the supervision, custody and care of young people charged with a delinquent act in the District of Columbia and either detained in a DYRS facility while awaiting adjudication or committed to DYRS by a District of Columbia Family Court judge following adjudication. In his various capacities at DYRS, Bell had access to the agency’s database system, which contained the personal identifying information of DYRS youth, including their names and social security numbers. Bell admitted that between approximately May 2010 and April 2013, he used his computer access to obtain the personal identifying information of at least 645 then-current and former DYRS youth. Bell admitted that he provided this information to other scheme participants, who used the names and social security numbers to file at least 1,160 fraudulent federal income tax returns that claimed refunds of approximately $4,441,194. The IRS issued approximately 700 U.S. Treasury checks, totaling approximately $2,422,211, in the names of the DYRS youth in whose names the tax returns were filed. Bell received financial compensation from co-conspirators for providing the stolen identities.
Bell is one of approximately 20 participants in this scheme who have pleaded guilty to federal charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Bell pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, one count of aiding and abetting in the filing of fictitious or false claims and one count aiding and abetting fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle ordered Bell to serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $1,972,710.
This morning, Lakisha Jackson, 40, of District Heights, Maryland, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public money for her role in the scheme. As part of her plea, she admitted that between September 2010 and May 2012 she allowed her residential address to be used to file approximately 70 fraudulent federal income tax returns seeking refunds of approximately $229,199 and to receive 61 fraudulently-procured U.S. Treasury checks totaling approximately $193,977. Jackson faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She has agreed to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $175,953. Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced on July 13.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Special Agent in Charge Jankowski, Inspector in Charge Kelokates and Assistant Inspector General Phillips commended those who investigated the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, Paralegal Specialists Donna Galindo, Corinne Kleinman and Julie Dailey and Legal Assistant Angela Lawrence. Finally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein of the District of Columbia’s Fraud and Public Corruption Section and Trial Attorneys Jeffrey B. Bender and Thomas F. Koelbl and former Trial Attorney Jessica Moran of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.
In the state of New Mexico we have a law in place to help victims of identity theft. The problem we have is that so many people are still unaware of it even though it has been around since 2009. This includes many people within the criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies. The law that I am referring to is the, “Identity Theft Passport; Database”. Statute number 31-26-15. Within the statute it states that, the Attorney General, in cooperation with the department of public safety and the motor vehicles division of the taxation and revenue department, shall issue an identity theft passport to a person who claims to be a victim of identity theft pursuant to Section 30-16-24. 1 NMSA 1978”.
How the program works, (1) fill out a police report stating your identity was stolen, (2) resubmit the report back to the agency with whom you filled out the report, (3) wait for the agency to upload the information into the New Mexico State ID theft Victims database that is housed by the Attorney General’s office. This process usually takes a couple weeks. The Attorney General may provide access to the database only to criminal justice agencies. (4) Once the information is uploaded the victim can then go to a state run MVD and be issued a driver’s license with a “V” endorsement on the back. How does this help the victim? Well, if their driver’s license or State issued identification card is run and something they did not do comes up, it will alert the officer to look into it further. In most cases the officer will be able to pull up the mugshot of the person arrested for the crime in question.
Some very good news- help for victims of ID theft is just a phone call away. ID theft victims no longer have to suffer in isolation and feel that they have nowhere to turn to for support.
ID theft Resolutions, Ltd. Is a 501(3) nonprofit dedicated exclusively to (1) educating the public, public officials and legislators about the challenges presented by the Identity theft phenomenon and how to prevent and respond to ID theft and (2) helping ID theft victims recover their identity and protect their credit. We can be contacted by calling 505-417-1902 or 1-888-484-9118 or by email at email@example.com.