Tag Archives: Identity theft

Here’s What Happens When Your Mom Or Dad Steals Your Identity

“We don’t have good statistics on the scope of child identity theft,” Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, told BuzzFeed News. “But it’s common enough that we hear from people on a regular basis, either parents who are calling us because they somehow found out their children’s information has been used, or kids themselves call us when they are getting a student loan or car loan and find out they have credit history that’s precluding them from moving forward with their lives.”

Minors are attractive targets for identity theft. Because of their young age, they have clean credit reports and often don’t discover the theft until they reach adulthood and apply for credit, John Krebs, identity theft program manager with the Federal Trade Commission, told BuzzFeed News. And their social security number and other personal information is easily available to family members — so easily available that there are cases of parents secretly using their adult children’s information to open lines of credit.

Hailee, a 23-year-old community college student in Pennsylvania, told BuzzFeed News she is working off $500 in debt on a credit card she didn’t know existed until recently. Her mother opened the account in her name in 2015 and used it to replace a broken air conditioner. Hailee said she didn’t discover the account until Wells Fargo began pestering her about late payments.

“I wasn’t making that much money,” said Hailee, who asked to be identified by her first name only. “If [my mom] had just asked me in the first place, I would’ve seen if there was anything I could do to help out. Instead, I find out one day that I’m $500 in debt.”

Hilary O’Byrne, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News it could not comment on Hailee’s account, but it has “extensive security measures to protect customers from fraudulent activity.” But it doesn’t discuss security procedures in detail, “as doing so could jeopardize their effectiveness.”

Hailee said she feels betrayed by her mother’s actions, but she’s not going to file charges. “I would never send my mom to jail or put her in a situation where she has to go to court,” she said. “It’s hard in these times to remember your parents love you and it sucks you’re being taken advantage of.”

This form of identity theft is not always malicious, Chi Chi Wu, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, told BuzzFeed News. “A lot of times parents are desperate,” she said. “The heat has been shut off, the light has been shut off. You can’t get service with your own information, so they use a child’s identity to get service.”

Krebs at the FTC said this kind of fraud “may be different from running up a bunch of credit card bills, but is the impact the same? Yes.”

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Police: Mother, daughter bought 3 new cars using stolen identity

WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) – A woman and her adult daughter were arrested for identity fraud after police say they bought three brand new Honda vehicles using someone else’s information.

The sales manager at Winter Haven Honda called police after a credit monitoring company raised concern that the purchases were fraudulent.

Winter Haven Police say Norma Castro, 48, and her daughter, Keisha Nicole Garcia-Castro, 23, came to the dealership to buy vehicles to use while driving for Uber.

Police say both women provided identification and Nicole filled out the credit application to purchase a 2018 Honda Accord and a 2017 Honda Pilot. The vehicles have a combined value of more than $100,000.

The dealership contacted the women a few days later to follow up on the purchase. Norma told the associate she was so happy, she planned to buy another vehicle. Police say the pair came back a few days later and purchased a 2018 Honda Accord, valued at $43,000.

But two days later, on Monday, January 29, the dealership got a call from a credit monitoring company which said the information entered on Nicole’s credit application had been flagged for identity theft.

That’s when the dealership called police about the fraud and let officers know Norma was scheduled to come to the dealership later that day.

When she arrived, Winter Haven police were there waiting for her.

Police say Norma told police where they could find the first two vehicles, which were towed back to Winter Haven Honda, but Nicole was nowhere to be found.

The Honda that Norma drove to the dealership was also returned.

Norma told police she was unaware of what was on the credit application filled out by her daughter. In her purse, police say they found bills and documents with the names, birth dates, and social security numbers of people unknown to Norma. Police say she ultimately confessed and said she was trying to protect her daughter.

Norma was booked into the Polk County Jail on one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and three counts of possession of another person’s ID without consent.

A warrant for Keisha Nicole Garcia-Castro was obtained on charges of grand theft of $100,000 or more and obtaining property by fraud more than $50,000.

Police say Nicole was already serving five years probation for a fraud charge in April 2016.

Anyone with information on Garcia-Castro’s whereabouts is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477). Callers are guaranteed anonymity and could be eligible for a cash reward.

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One prison sentence wasn’t enough for this former Kentucky lawmaker

A former Eastern Kentucky lawmaker pleaded guilty to identity theft Thursday under a plea deal that calls for a two-year prison sentence.

Former state Rep. Keith Hall, a democrat from Pikeville who is already serving a 7-year sentence in another case, was charged last year with three counts of wire fraud, two counts of identity theft and one count of lying to the FBI.

Under his deal with prosecutors, Hall pleaded guilty to one count of identity theft. In turn, they will recommend a 2-year prison sentence, a maximum fine of $250,000 and no more than one year of supervised release.

The other five charges, the most serious of which could have carried a 20-year sentence, would be dismissed.

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Hall is currently serving a 7-year sentence following a 2015 conviction for bribing a state inspector to overlook violations at his surface coal mines.

The new case involves a Pike County company called S&H Chemical Co. LLC, which supplied chemicals and water-treatment products to coal companies. The company’s owners were listed in the indictment as S.H. and J.H., with J.H. identified as Hall’s son.

Hall owned coal companies that operated in conjunction with S&H Chemical, and Hall “generally oversaw” the operation of S&H, the indictment said.

B&W Resources, a London mining company that bought chemicals from S&H, required vendors to show proof that they had valid liability and workers compensation insurance, the indictment said.

When B&W requested proof of insurance from S&H in April 2015, Hall cooked up a scheme to fool the company by submitting falsified documents, according to the indictment.

Hall allegedly gave B&W at least four fake certificates showing that S&H had insurance.

Hall was a state lawmaker for 14 years before being defeated for re-election in 2014.

He was indicted in federal court that year for allegedly funneling $46,000 to Kelly Shortridge, a state surface-mine inspector, so that Shortridge would ignore or delay enforcement of environmental violations at Hall’s mines.

Hall is scheduled to be released from prison in June 2022 in that case.

Will Wright is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Reach him at 859-270-9760, @HLWright

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ID theft, fraud prevention topic of free seminar

Attendees will learn how to be their own best defense against becoming a victim of scams, fraud and identity theft. Topics covered will include protecting yourself in a data breach, scams hitting the local area, health-care scams and fraud, how to recognize scams and fraud by mail, phone and email and what to do if you are ever a victim.

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Residents should be aware of tax-related identity theft

Tax season officially kicked off this week with the IRS accepting returns from filers.

Plenty of time remains for those procrastinators who prefer to file when the deadline rolls around — April 17 marks that date this year. But with the Equifax hack and similar opportunities for thieves to access the personal information of millions, it may pay off to file early to safeguard any refund that might be due.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when a person’s Social Security number is used by someone else for the purpose of claiming a refund to which they have no rights. Victims often discover the fraud after they receive a notice from the IRS that states their Social Security number was used on more than one tax return filed in a single year or the agency’s records show there was income from an unknown employer.

The Federal Trade Commission this week reported some encouraging news on that front. The number of tax-related identity theft complaints filed in 2017 made up 22 percent of 371,157 identity-theft complaints, down from 33 percent of the 399,223 complaints filed the previous year.

The agency also reported a decline in the number of scam artists who call taxpayers and threaten them with arrest or large fines unless an immediate payment is made. The 56,065 complaints involving these so-called IRS impostors in 2017 represent a 54 percent decline from the previous year.

“We’ll have to wait to see if the declines turn into long-term trends,” said Seena Gressin, an FTC Consumer and Business Education Division lawyer, while promoting a public awareness campaign intended to combat these crimes. “In the meantime, you can be sure of this: The more you know about tax-related identity theft and IRS imposter scams, the better your chance of avoiding them.”

While the prevalence of tax-related identity theft appears to be waning, the Internal Revenue Service warns “taxpayers to remain vigilant to scams as they continue to be reported around the country.” Thieves often target those who are impacted by disaster — natural or otherwise — and vulnerable populations.

“These scams evolve over time and adjust to reflect events in the news, but they all typically are variations on a familiar theme,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen states in a media release addressing the topic. “Recognizing these schemes and taking some simple steps can protect taxpayers against these con artists.”

In an effort to combat this crime, the IRS offers tips for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses:

• Taxpayers are urged to use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections, keep it turned on, and set it to update automatically. Sensitive files stored on computers should be encrypted, and a unique password created for each account.

• Taxpayers should familiarize themselves — and learn to recognize and avoid — phishing emails, threatening calls and text messages sent by thieves posing as legitimate organizations. Do not click on links or attachments in suspicious email messages or those from unknown senders.

• Taxpayers should protect personal data — treat it like cash, and don’t leave it lying around.

• Tax professionals are encouraged to review security features and exercise due diligence while protecting client data.

• Businesses and other organizations are urged to combat identity theft by helping educate employees — especially payroll and human resources workers — clients and customers.

• Businesses that retain sensitive financial data also should review and update security plans.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901, @dsmootMPhx or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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Tax identity theft awareness week

LEE COUNTY, Fla.– It’s tax identity theft awareness week and Florida ranks as one of the top 3 states for identity theft, according to the FTC.

Miriam Dotson of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is breaking down how SWFL ranks when it comes to fraud.

She says the most popular call for the year was the IRS scam, there were almost 1,300 calls on that scam alone.

February is the busiest month for calls to the fraud line, when people start filing their tax returns. April came in a close second.

According to the FTC, Naples ranks 5th in our state for identity theft and Fort Myers-Cape Coral ranks 19th.

This week, the FTC and IRS are hosting free online webinars and chats on the topics so you can learn more by logging on to their websites.

LCSO encourages you to use those resources but also be sure to file early. This way, the scammer gets denied your return instead of you finding out your legitimate file is denied.

For more information on how to protect yourself or if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, call LCSO.

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