Survey: WA Consumers Don’t Do Enough to Protect from ID Theft

PHOTO: AARP Washington State Director Doug Shadel prowls a parking lot with a convicted ID thief as part of his research about consumer fraud. The groups new survey says few Washingtonians take all the little but important steps to prevent identity theft. Photo courtesy AARP Washington.

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Image: Ameriloan customer service number

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Woman wanted in $800K ID theft scheme

SAN ANTONIO – A woman accused of stealing the identities of more than 800 people, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent tax returns, is on the run.

Thalia Diaz Camareno, who also goes by the name of Irene Carrero Echevarria, faces a 10-count indictment on charges including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Camareno, 29, and her alleged co-conspirator, Antonin Julio Nazaro, both live in Houston.

An indictment claims the pair used stolen personal identity information that included the names and Social Security numbers of their victims to file tax returns through the mail.

The fraudulently obtained tax refunds were used to obtain cash and goods for their own benefit, according to the allegations. The potential loss attributed to this scheme is allegedly in excess of $807,096. More than 800 victims have been identified, a press release from the United States Attorneys Office said.

Nazaro appeared in federal court on the charges Thursday.

Anyone with information on Camarenos whereabouts is asked to call the Internal Revenue Services Criminal Investigation Department at 281-330-5377.

Cab driver charged in ID theft may have more victims, CPD says

A cab driver accused of stealing credit and debit card information from passengers may have more victims than previously thought, police said.

Omar Asemgar, 51, was arrested following an ABC7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation. Police said Asemgar told passengers he needed to run a transaction in the front seat of his taxi because the card swiper in back was broken and then gave passengers the wrong card. Those cards were often from a previous passenger, officials said.

Joe Tosch said that more than $400 was drained from his checking account in the alleged scam. Police now said Asemgar had about 50 different cards- debit and credit- in his possession at the time of his arrest. They also said there are at least 16 alleged victims.

Asemgar was charged Friday with several identity theft felony counts after the I-Team alerted the City of Chicagos Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. His cab drivers license was suspending pending the investigation.

Asemgar was released from jail on a $25,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court again in December.

He did not answer the door Wednesday at his Rogers Park apartment.

Have You Called Your Nana Lately? Debt Collectors Have

Gripes about debt collectors are the most common complaint filed by older Americans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday.

Collection gripes are roughly one out of every three complaints the bureau gets from seniors, it said. Confusion over medical bills, attempts to collect debts of deceased family members, and illegal threats of garnishing federal benefits like Social Security top the list.

“It is increasingly common for older Americans to carry debts into their retirement years, and consumers living on fixed incomes often struggle to pay off these debts,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Older Americans deserve to be treated with the respect they have earned.”

The harassment often adds to struggle and grief consumers are already suffering. Collectors badger consumers who are in the middle of red-tape wrestling with healthcare providers, for example. In some cases, collectors spend months or even years bringing up bad memories of lost loved ones whose debts should have died with them.

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Among the complaints, the CFPB received:

  • Collectors hounding older Americans about medical debt: Older Americans describe being confused and frustrated because collectors attempt to collect medical expenses while the consumer is simultaneously attempting to correct billing mistakes or waiting for providers and insurers to resolve the medical disputes. For example, older consumers report frequent and repeated attempts to collect medical bills already covered by insurance. Another common complaint from older consumers is first learning about an overdue bill from checking their credit reports (which you can get for free once a year).
  • Collectors attempting to collect on debts of deceased family members: Older consumers describe collectors’ repeated attempts to collect debts of deceased family members. Many of the consumers complained that debt collectors continue to call or send collection letters after they have informed debt collectors that they are not personally responsible for the debt, or that there is no money left in the deceased borrower’s estate. Some complaints describe collection attempts made years after probate is concluded. Many consumers express anguish about collectors ignoring their requests to cease attempts to collect the debt of a deceased relative.
  • Collectors illegally threatening to garnish an older American’s federal benefits: Older consumers report debt collectors sometimes threaten to garnish Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or Veterans’ benefits, even though these funds ordinarily are not subject to garnishment. According to the complaints, these threats cause older consumers significant distress, especially when they rely on federal benefits to pay essential living costs.

The CFPB offered sample letters for older adults who feel like they are being harassed. This CFPB sample form letters help consumers demand accurate records of alleged debts, dispute the existence of a debt or put an end to harassment.

The CFPB also clarified that federal benefits enjoy special protections.

“When a consumer receives federal benefits by direct deposit to a checking account, the bank or credit union is required automatically to protect up to two months of these benefits. If the consumer receives benefits on a government issued prepaid card, they usually are protected too,” the agency said.

A collection account hitting your credit history can drop your credit scores significantly. You can spot a collection account by monitoring your credit scores regularly. You can get your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.

More on Managing Debt:

  • The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
  • Understanding Your Debt Collection Rights
  • Top 10 Debt Collection Rights

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HomeStrong USA money management course on Saturday

HomeStrong USA will hold a free seminar #x201c;Turning Cents into Dollars,#x201d;on Saturday from 10:30 am to noon at its conference center, 8711 Monroe Court, Rancho Cucamonga.

The program, put on by the nonprofit organization, is designed to assist people on learning the skill of money management.

HomeStrong USA is a HUD-approved community development organization that promotes home ownership through education and counseling.

Manage your money with these apps

These days, you dont really need a financial planner to help you keep a handle on your money. For most people, a few mobile apps can help you make sure your bills get paid, that youre spending smart, and youre saving for the future.

Ive rounded up several apps that pay attention to your money for you, offering advice, helping stick to a budget or even protecting you from fraud.


Mint

Mint

Free, iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Its hard to talk about budgeting apps without talking about Mint, one of the most popular money management services. The app and Web service pulls in data from your bank accounts, credit cards and loans to give you a full picture of your net worth and financial health.

You can set up budgets for nearly anything, then Mint will categorize all of your spending to make sure you stay in check. You can also create savings goals, such as paying off your credit cards or saving for a new car, and the service will coach you along the way.

America’s Top Financial Frights

Americans take a certain pleasure in horror at Halloween, going to great lengths to turn themselves into zombies, vampires, and other ghoulish creatures. But in the realm of finance, the horror is too often real.

A new MoneyRates.com survey finds that roughly eight out of 10 Americans have struggled with past financial scares, such as emergencies that left them short on cash. Additionally, nearly nine of 10 carry financial fears about the future, with the frightful challenge of saving enough for retirement ranking as their No. 1 fear.

Nightmare on your street
The MoneyRates.com survey found that most Americans are haunted by both past financial scares and fears for the future. Here are some of the gory details:

  1. Most people can point to a specific financial scare they have experienced. Nearly 79% of those surveyed could identify a specific incident as their biggest financial scare to date. So, if you can recall a chilling financial scare, you are not alone.
  2. The unexpected really frightens people. In horror movies, the things that seem to come out of nowhere really make people jump. Its the same way with finances. The most common financial scare people cited was not having enough money for an emergency. The thing is, if you have seen enough horror movies, you learn to expect the unexpected. You should do the same with your finances by keeping enough in your savings account to weather unexpected financial crises.
  3. Borrowing money is scary. While watching a creepy movie, how many times have you wondered why the victims went into that scary house or foggy graveyard in the first place? It seems these characters often put themselves in a position to be terrorized — and the same often happens with peoples finances. Between large credit card balances and bills they could not afford to pay, 31% of those surveyed said they had been scared by some form of debt. If youre not careful, racking up debt can be like checking into the Bates Motel.
  4. One in 10 people frighten themselves. More than 10% of respondents have had a financial scare resulting from a forgotten or misplaced bill. If your own carelessness scares you, look into automated bill-paying.
  5. Investments have not been that scary lately. Perhaps surprisingly, less than 7% of respondents said they had been frightened by a failing investment. Then again, stocks are more than five years into a bull market — long enough to lull people into a false sense of security.
  6. Bounced checks are three times more likely to haunt men than women. Its not a chronic problem for either sex, but about three times as many men said bouncing a check has been their biggest financial scare.
  7. What people fear most is the future. Turning from past scares to present fears, what people worry about the most are not immediate concerns like paying debts or handling an emergency, but rather future needs like retirement, childrens education, and leaving an inheritance. Forty-nine percent cited those distant future issues as their biggest financial fear, while 38% were more troubled by immediate concerns. Overall, 87% of respondents said they have at least one financial worry regarding the future.
  8. People are more afraid for themselves than for the next generation. While the future is what people worry about the most, it is typically their own future, not the next generations. Nearly 36% are worried about being able to retire comfortably, while only 13% are concerned about funding college or leaving an inheritance.
  9. Men are more likely than women to have experienced a financial scare. In both cases, the vast majority of respondents could point to a specific financial scare, but the percentage was even higher for men than for women.
  10. Emergencies seem to rattle women more than men. Women are more likely to say that not having enough money for an emergency has been their biggest financial scare in the past and to identify it as their biggest current financial fear.

Confronting financial fears
So what scares you most about your finances? Is it the memory of a past experience or a fear of the unknown that keeps you awake at night?

If you want to put your financial fears to bed, heres a tip: Dont shy away from them. Shine a light on those dark places by staying on top of your financial obligations, and confront the demons by doing something about them. Handling money will always be a little scary, but careful planning can tone it down to a mild suspense story, rather than a terrifying slasher flick.

Methodology
This survey was conducted for MoneyRates.com by Op4G in June 2014. It surveyed 2,000 US adults age 25 or older.

This article originally appeared on Money-Rates.com.

CHINA MONEY-C.bank’s silent money management change shows shadow …

* C.bank stays passive in open market ops for past 3 weeks

* Relying primarily on opaque backdoor injections to
maintain cash

By Pete Sweeney

SHANGHAI, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Chinas central bank has put
investors on edge in October, setting aside transparency in
favour of covert monetary policy operations as regulators
balance the need to revive productive investment against the
risk of reanimating high-risk credit growth.

The strategy has two prongs. On the one hand, the Peoples
Bank of China (PBOC) has gone passive in the open money market,
neither injecting nor draining cash on a net basis for three
straight weeks, the longest such stretch on record.

On the other, it has moved billions into the banking system
through unpublicised channels, befuddling investors who had
expected it to follow through on commitments to become more
transparent, not more opaque.

The PBOCs latest move, if it turns out to be true,
represents a further move toward black box monetary policy,
Dutch bank ING wrote in a recent research note.

The PBOC has offered no admission – much less an explanation
– of the shift, but some analysts say the tactics show reformers
at the central bank remain highly concerned over speculation and
arbitrage activities, even though published indicators show a
decline in high-risk forms of credit creation in recent months,
and inflation remains subdued.

The central bank, by keeping investors in the dark as to how
much money it is moving into the system and how long it will let
it stay there, can keep investors guessing about its intentions
and by extension discourage speculators.

At the same time, it has tinkered with lowering official
rates on short-term repo contracts, seen as a way to gently
encourage lending without ploughing more paper into the market.

They dont want to send out the so-called wrong signal,
said Zhou Hao, an economist at ANZ in Shanghai who focuses on
monetary policy.

First they want to discipline the market, by cracking down
on shadow banking and on interest rate arbitrage in commodity
financing.

SEIZING CONTROL

Chinas shadow banking sector expanded rapidly to become the
worlds third largest in 2013, according to the Financial
Stability Board.

That tallies with domestic data showing explosive growth in
the issuance of exotic forms of off-balance-sheet finance,
prompting a regulatory crackdown that has yet to completely wind
down..

In response, the PBOC has dramatically shortened the
maturity of its monetary tools that year, relying mostly on
drains and injections over periods as short as a week.

That shift was seen as a way to keep the liquidity engine
fuelled without flooding the wider economy.

The adjustments, conducted during twice-weekly open market
operations, were a matter of public record and traders in money
and stock markets monitored them for signs of policy direction.

But in recent months the PBOC has moved away from this open
policy toward a more secretive one.

Compared with the open market operations, which have
injected a net 44 billion yuan ($7.20 billion) into the system
this year, the new backdoor, short-term loan facilities (SLFs)
are estimated by different sources as having provided between
700-900 billion yuan to the banking system in just a few months.

But it is difficult for investors to assess the impact,
especially as the facilities are opt-in, meaning banks have
the option to draw on them within a certain time but are not
required to do so, nor to do so all at once.

Traders say the cash is needed to offset liquidity pressures
from upcoming IPOs and sliding deposits at banks, and the leaks
about the covert funding send a comforting signal, albeit an
indirect one, that the bank is not indifferent to recent wobbly
economic indicators.

Traders and analysts also suggested the central bank may be
testing the water with its market innovations.

For now, its just trying to keep balance in the market,
said a dealer at a major state-owned bank in Beijing.

The central bank is just taking a look-and-see approach,
and figuring out which policies it can use going forward.

(1 US dollar = 6.1140 Chinese yuan)

(Additional reporting by Chen Yixin in Shanghai; Editing by
Alan Raybould)

Coakley lawsuit filed over sibling dispute on company money, management