ID theft landing innocent victims in jail

Willie Frank Cannon vividly remembers the last time he saw his childhood friend, Larry Cobb, Jr. in November 2009.

You could practically consider us brothers, you seen him, you seen me, Willie said of their longtime friendship.

During their encounter in 2009, Larry told Willie hed just been arrested and posted bond.

They made plans to meet up the next day, but Larry never showed up.

I get a call from my mom stating that, ‘Youve got a ton of letters here from lawyers wanting to represent you for your recent arrest,’ Willie told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer. Instantly, I knew it was [Larry].

It was also Larry caught using Willies name in Clayton County in 2007, in Henry County in 2011, and four separate times in the city of Atlanta.

I never understand how you could pull somebody over, let alone arrest someone and they have no identification on them, said Willie.

A Channel 2 Action News investigation found at least five different mug shots showing Larrys face, booked into the Fulton County Jail under his friend Willies name.

 

We see it a good bit and I know it happens elsewhere, said Henry County Sheriffs Department Chief Deputy David Foster.

Foster still isnt sure exactly how it happened in Henry County, where Larry was arrested, went to court and pleaded guilty — all under Willies name.

When no one reported for probation, a warrant was issued in Willies name. Willie was pulled over and arrested.

We immediately identified that this is not the correct subject and we immediately released him, said Foster.

But sorting out the records took longer.

It is very difficult because its a lot of paperwork thats generated between the courts, the clerks office, the sheriffs office, said Foster.

In Fulton County, the two friends are still so intertwined, both sets of records pop up when you type either of their names into the jail or courthouse websites.

It can be fixed, I think you have to have people in place who care to fix it, said Willie, who has been trying to get the situation corrected for years.

To think you might go to jail because someone else uses your identity is scary and wrong, said State Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) after Channel 2 shared Willies story.

Its unconscionable what happened to this young man. We need to fix that problem, said Albers.

Fleischer found that at least 12 other states already have their own system, and nearly a decade ago the FBI created the Identity Theft File.

The federal system assigns victims a unique password; without it a fraudster cannot get charged under your name.

The problem is, almost no one knows the system exists.

The US Department of Justice said the following in an identity theft prevention audit:

We believe the FBI should conduct a full evaluation of the usefulness of the NCIC Identity Theft File to determine its continued viability. If the FBI determines that the Identity Theft File is a valuable part of its identity theft enforcement efforts, it should ensure that all FBI Special Agents and Victim Specialists receive training on the file and that the file is being populated. The FBI should also develop additional outreach plans to ensure that state and local law enforcement agencies are aware of the file’s existence.

Only 13,341 victims are registered out of 13.1 million ID thefts last year.

 Were going to explore both options. Whatevers best to help Georgia citizens, said Albers, who vowed to work with partners at the GBI to come up with a solution.

Its a big problem. We see it on a daily basis. We average about two to three identity thefts a day, says MC Cox, chief investigator for the State Court of Clayton County.

Cox said many of the cases begin with a traffic stop of a driver who has a suspended license or active warrant, or they’re on probation and cannot afford to get in trouble under their own name, so they give the name of a friend or family member.

They figure the family member will get over it and the family member will be less likely to prosecute them, says Cox.

Cox suggested patrol officers should ask more questions during traffic stops, especially if the driver is not carrying any identification.

He said jails should also pay more attention to inmates who insist theyve been a victim of identity theft.

In some cases, they may not even be aware of a case or warrant in their name.

Channel 2 Action News found another 2008 case in Clayton County where Larry was convicted of using Willies name.

Im still sitting here in shock now about Clayton, because Im like how on earth did I not know that? said Willie.

After our interview, the Henry County Sheriffs Office offered to help get Willie entered into that federal database, but the damage is already done.

Hes cost me more than you can imagine, Willie said of his former friend.

Larry finally landed in state prison in 2013.

But twice since then, Willie has been pulled over, arrested and spent days in jail because of a Fulton County warrant still in Willies name, for a crime Larry committed.

The same lady who helped me the last time [at the Fulton County Jail] knew exactly who I was and Ill never forget she said, What are you doing?’ Willie recalled. I said, ‘Im back down here for the case that you fixed!’

Clearly the problem wasnt fixed, leaving Willie in constant fear.

If Im driving now, and the police get behind me, I know Im going to jail. No one should have to ride around like that.

My Client Is Making a Terrible Financial Choice. What Do I Do?

As we focus on the clients goals and help them carry out their wishes, part of our role is to make sure they have all the information they need. This gives us a responsibility to educate ourselves so the advice we offer is as sound as we can make it. We also need to do whatever we can to help clients hear and understand that advice.

Clients who are hovering on the edge of a financial cliff are typically about to act out of strong emotions such as fear. They often cant take in financial advice until they are able to move through that fear. It only makes things worse if financial advisers shame clients, bully them, or abandon them to their fears. The challenge for planners is to help clients reach a more rational place so they can gather additional information and make decisions that will serve them well.

With the right kind of support, clients are almost always able to get past the fear that is pushing them to make imprudent decisions. Providing such support by working with clients emotions and beliefs about money, perhaps with the help of a financial therapist or financial coach, is well within a financial planners ethical responsibility. Our role is not merely to do no harm. It is also to use all the tools we have to help clients act in their own best interests.

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Rick Kahler, ChFC, is president of Kahler Financial Group, a fee-only financial planning firm. His work and research regarding the integration of financial planning and psychology has been featured or cited in scores of broadcast media, periodicals and books. He is a co-author of four books on financial planning and therapy. He is a faculty member at Golden Gate University and the president of the Financial Therapy Association.

College finance seminar tonight

ESCONDIDO Calvin Christian School is hosting a free financial planning for college seminar tonight.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Parents with children of all ages are encouraged to attend. It will be held from 7 to 8:15 pm in the school library, 2000 N. Broadway.

The seminar will provide parents and students with information on the best ways to save and pay for college. Specific topics will include tax credits and deductions; strategies for managing income and assets; loans and other forms of aid; and 529 savings plans.

The workshop will be led by Adam Skumawitz, a certified college funding specialist with Thrivent Financial. Skumawitz, a graduate of Cornell University and a former professional soccer player, works with churches, schools and youth sports clubs in Southern California to educate families on paying for college.

michelle.breier@utsandiego.com o (760) 529-4957 o @UTSDbreier

CMA decides not to progress interchange fee investigations at the present time

Currently Visa typically charges 8p per debit card transaction and 0.77% of the transaction value for consumer credit cards. MasterCard typically charges 7 to 11p per MasterCard and Maestro debit card transaction, 0.8% of transaction value for standard consumer credit cards, and 1.05 to 1.5% for premium consumer credit cards.

The ECs interchange fee regulation currently proposes to cap debit card fees at 0.2% of the value of the transaction and credit cards at 0.3%. These caps are expected to come into effect during 2015.

Ahead of that the CMA is pleased to note that MasterCard has decided:

  • to reduce the interchange fees applicable to its premium cards down to the level of its standard credit card fees on or before 1 April 2015, regardless of whether the interchange fees regulation is adopted, and
  • once the interchange fees regulation enters into force, to implement graduated reductions of its consumer credit interchange rates ahead of the caps that are laid down in the regulation taking effect.

The CMA, and its predecessor the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has played a significant role in the ongoing drive to deal with interchange fees. For example, the OFT, on behalf of the UK government, intervened at the General Court and the Court of Justice to support the EC to defend its decision that MasterCards European interchange fee arrangements infringed competition law, thus setting an important legal precedent. The OFT also played an important role in making a case for the establishment of the UK Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), which will become fully operational on 1 April 2015 (see notes for more information).

Notes

  1. The PSR was incorporated on 1 April 2014 and becomes fully operational on 1 April 2015. The PSR will have powers, under the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 (FSBRA) to give directions and impose requirements on participants in regulated payment systems, including operators and payment service providers. It will also have the power, following applications made to it, to vary the fees, charges, terms and conditions provided for in agreements relating to payment systems. The PSR will also be a concurrent competition authority with powers under the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002. HM Treasury is consulting on the designation of those payment systems to be regulated by the PSR, but this is expected to include the MasterCard and Visa card payment systems. It is also expected that the PSR will be the competent authority for the enforcement of the Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR). The PSR will assess what, if any, actions it might need to take regarding domestic interchange fees using its powers.

  2. With effect from 1 March 2015, Visas interchange fees for UK domestic consumer debit card transactions will be revised to 0.2%+1p with a maximum cap of 50p for secure transactions and 0.2%+11p with a maximum cap of pound;1 for non-secure transactions.

  3. More information on the interchange fees regulation is available from the European Commission website.

Vigilance is key to thwart ID theft

As technology has advanced, so has identity theft.

News stories about data breaches at retailers, credit card companies, banks, businesses and even government agencies crop up frequently. There is the so-called dark Web, where peoples data are bought and sold.

Its more important than ever to protect your data and your devices, to make yourself a harder target for would-be thieves. But still, according to a survey done in September for credit reporting agency Experians ProtectMyID program, only about 45 percent of New Yorkers surveyed use passwords to protect their smartphone or tablet; and 47 percent reuse passwords for multiple websites or online accounts. While almost half have been victims of some kind of ID theft or know a victim, the survey says, just under a third still arent concerned about the subject.

What we find, year over year, theres simply this attitude of this wont happen to me, said Becky Frost, consumer education manager for ProtectMyID. It could be either they feel they cant keep up with it, or theyre not aware of the risk. And either way, its a problem.

There are basic steps everyone can take to watch over their information.

n Checking your credit report is key, Frost said, because it allows you to see if your Social Security number is being used and if new accounts or credit inquiries are being made.

n Everyone is entitled to a free credit report once per year (available online at www.freecreditreport.com). You can also spread out your checks by getting a separate free report once per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies #x2014; Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.

n Frost said consumers can put a fraud alert on their credit report, so anyone seeking to open an account in your name will have to pass an added layer of verification.

n If you learn your identity has been compromised, Frost said, the first thing you want to do is not panic.

n Then, gather your information, start a list of who you need to call (banks, credit card companies, etc.). File an identity theft report with local police. Contact the credit reporting agencies. Notify your lenders.

n If your bank or lender has a data breach, Frost said, take advantage of the free credit monitoring services they are required to offer.

n To protect yourself while shopping, Frost said, beware of shoulder surfers looking to glean your information at the register. Keep your card covered if someones standing too close. Change your passwords regularly, and make sure theyre strong, she said.

n If you shop online, use only trusted retailers, and log out from your account when youre done. Know how to remote-wipe your devices in case theyre lost or stolen. Watch your surroundings, know your budget and know the liabilities on your cards.

Really, it comes down to awareness, Frost said.

hyakin@th-record.com#xa0;

Expect things to get worse, before they get better

The daily drumbeat of data breaches imply security is the new black. The data breach at Target that exposed over 40 million consumer credit cards, debit cards and PINs. Then came the JP Morgan breach. Followed by the Home Depot breach. The list goes on. Whats clear is that enterprises must make a much more concerted effort to improve security.

How do organizations improve security? Lets dig into the anatomy of these breaches. A common thread appears to be malware infection of a laptop or mobile device. A device gets infected outside the secure perimeter, and the malware lies low until the user re-enters the secure perimeter. For example, many enterprises provide fortified laptops and mobile devices to their employees.

When an employee takes the laptop on the go, the device is used in a variety of environments and could get infected or phished. When the employee returns to the office, the malware spreads rapidly to other devices. Once the malware installs itself, it may record every keystroke entered by the user, extract various login credentials and export them to command and control centers offshore.

In the Target breach, it now appears that the login credentials of its HVAC contractor was the initial vulnerability that was exploited. Most likely, a keystroke logger malware infected the contractors laptop and was able to obtain the credentials. Since Target had installed sophisticated intrusion detection/protection security systems on its networks, the infection likely occurred outside of the Target network. Once the login credentials were extracted, it was easy for the malware to spread inside the secure perimeter and export large quantities of sensitive data at will. Specifically, the malware infected POS terminals, reading credit card and payment card information directly from the main memory of the terminal. There were plenty of alarm bells from the intrusion detection system, but Target chose to ignore them.

The Home Depot breach shared many of the characteristics of the Target breach. Malware infected POS terminals to read payment information from main memory. The bad actor then aggregated the information and exfiltrated it without detection. Moreover, the malware attached itself to the anti-virus software installed on the POS terminal to evade detection. And in both cases, the POS terminals ran older versions of Microsoft Windows, making it particularly easy for malware to enter via infected laptops running the same operating system.

In short, hackers are exploiting laptops and mobile devices as key conduits for their malware. Legacy security architectures at financial institutions divide the world into “trusted devices” and “untrusted devices.” Trusted devices are given largely unfettered access to the network and are the easiest point of entry for malware. At almost every bank, a laptop issued by the bank with lots of security software installed is considered a “trusted device.” That laptop may leave the secure perimeter, roam the globe and return to the secure perimeter and still be treated as a “trusted device.” The trusted versus untrusted device approach was fine when viruses were easy to detect. But hackers have evolved – anti-virus software now detects less than 5 percent of all malware.

Organizations that deal with sensitive data must evolve their security architectures. Every user device must be viewed as untrusted and the focus must shift from securing devices and networks to securing the data. If all data access is subject to contextual-access control and anomaly detection, it becomes difficult for malware infections on laptops and mobile devices to download and export large quantities of data. For example, if a laptop suddenly starts downloading large quantities of sensitive data, it is most likely infected by malware that is replaying stolen login credentials to gain access to that data.

Florida student aid accounts used in ID theft

KENSON PIERRES VIDEOGRAPHER, 31-YEAR-OLD JUSTIN McADAM, WAS ALSO KILLED. Victor Oquendo: MORE THAN A DOOZ CURRENT FORMER MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE ACCUSED OF USING THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS TO COMMIT IDENTITY THEFT. TODAY WERE HEARING FROM OTHER STUDENTS. LOCAL10S CHRISTINA VAZQUEZ EXPLAINS HOW THE SCHEME WORKED. Reporter: STEPS FROM THE US ATTORNEYS OFFICE, OFFICIALS SAY SEVERAL MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE STUDENTS WERE INVOLVED IN A STOLEN IDENTITY TAX FRAUD SCHEME INVOLVING 644 VICTIMS WITH THE INTENT TO FLEES THE GOVERNMENT OF $1.9 MILLION. WOW. SERIOUS? Reporter: OFFICIALS SAID TUESDAYS TAKEDOWN INVOLVING COLLEGE KIDS COULD SIGNAL A DISTURBING NEW TWIST WITH THE ONGOING BATTLE AGAINST ID THEFT AND TAX REFUND FRAUD. AT 21 CHARGES, 17 ARRESTED JUST THIS MORNING, ALL BUT THREE ARE FORMER OR CURRENT MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE STUDENTS. HERES HOW IT WORK. INVESTIGATORS SAY USING STOLEN IDENTITIES, THE FRAUDULENT REFUNDS WERE STASHED IN A STUDENTS ONE ACCOUNT. THATS A STUDENT ACCOUNT THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO PUT YOUR MONEY ON. Reporter: INVESTIGATORS SAY EVERY TIME FRAUDULENT FUNDS DROPPED IN THAT ACCOUNT USED FOR FINANCIAL AID DISBURSEMENT, PARTICIPATING STUDENTS WOULD GET A KICKBACK FROM $100 TO $1,000. ITS NEVER WORTH DOING SOMETHING BAD. I PERSONALLY DONT THINK THAT GETTING INTO TROUBLE WITH THE LAW IS WORTH ANY TYPE OF MONEY. DONT DO IT. DONT DO IT. Reporter: THE NORTH CAMPUS AND WOLFSON CAMPUS WERE HOT SPOTS FOR SCHEME RECRUITERS, SAY INVESTIGATORS. THOSE INVOLVED NOW FACE FEDERAL CHARGES THAT CARRY SENTENCES UP TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON IF CONVICTED. I, FOR ONE, HAVE HEARD OF THINGS LIKE THAT THAT HAVE BEEN GOING ON, BUT I DIDNT KNOW IT WAS THAT SERIOUS. THEY HAVENT APPROACHED ME, BUT I WILL TELL MY FRIENDS ABOUT IT DEFINITELY. Reporter: AND THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT THE US ATTORNEYS OFFICE WANTS TO SEE DONE. THEY WANT TO GET THE WORD OUT. NOW, OF THE FOUR THEY ARE STILL LOOKING FOR THIS MORNING, AS YOU CAN SEE ON YOUR SCREEN JUST A SHORT TIME AGO THE FBI CAPTURED ONE OF THEM. THAT MEANS THREE REMAIN AT LARGE. AGAIN, 21 CHARGED. YOURE GOING TO WANT TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SCREEN. YOURE GOING SEE A NUMBER FLASHED. YOU ITS A HOTLINE THE IRS, (305)982-5151. AGAIN (305)982-5151. I ASKED THE IRS, I ASKED THEM WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU WANT TO SEE PRODUCED FROM THIS HOTLINE? THEY SAID THEY WANT TO HEAR FROM ANY COLLEGE STUDENTS THAT PERHAPS WERE APPROACHED ON CAMPUS, THEY WANT TO KNOW WHO EXACTLY IS RECRUITING THEM BECAUSE THEY DO BELIEVE THAT WHEN THEY ARE SEEING HERE AT MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE COULD BE

Boston money management firm became publicly traded this week

It’s not just tech and biotech firms that can reap the benefits of wading into the public stock market around here. Boston also has a money management company that just joined in the fun.

Unfortunately for OM Asset Management, its stock happened to hit the market just as the Dow Jones industrial average was having its worst day of the year.

Parent company Old Mutual plc, the British insurance conglomerate, raised more than $300 million in the IPO, by selling 22 million shares in OM Asset Management at $14 a share. On the first day of trading, shares were remarkably stable given the overall plunge in the market, sliding just 0.4 percent to close at $13.95 a share on Thursday.

Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t heard of OM. Like Beverly-based Affiliated Managers Group, OM Asset Management doesn’t manage funds under its own brand name. Instead, the 1,100-employee company consists of a number of smaller money managers that together give it more than $200 billion in assets under management. In OM’s case, its group includes six fund management groups, led by Boston-based Acadian and Dallas’ Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney Straus.

Technically, OM is based in London, the home city of its parent company. But the money management business is essentially headquartered here in Boston, in a nearly 40,000-square-foot office near the top of the Hancock tower. CEO Peter Bain and four executive vice presidents, all based in the Back Bay office, lead the 85-person corporate workforce in Boston. Acadian has another 200 employees in Boston. It’s unclear how many people work for a smaller local affiliate, Copper Rock.

OM’s roots in Boston date back to 1980, to the creation of United Asset Management, a firm that set an early example of how to build a money manager out of a constellation of smaller fund firms. Old Mutual ended up buying UAM 20 years later for $2.2 billion, soon after two other local mutual fund firms were sold to overseas buyers. In more recent years, OM has shed a few of its businesses to focus on actively managed funds. OM reported nearly $930 million in revenue last year, compared to about $700 million in 2012.

It’s not every day that the Boston area’s financial industry sees one of its own in an IPO. In fact, it’s pretty rare. Of course, this wasn’t the IPO that caused most the buzz locally on Thursday — that would be Cambridge-based HubSpot’s wildly successful initial public offering. Tech and biotech might get all the attention. But it’s a testament to our diversified economic base that we have firms like OM that can attract hundreds of millions of dollars of cash from investors and remain in a stable position on a pretty crazy day for the stock market.

Apple Makes Old Security Business Lead to the Future

Apples role in getting the future right has always been been a little strange. Everything it has done, from the mouse and visual display of the Mac, to the mobile music player of the iPod, to the computer-as-phone of the iPhone, Apple has had to work hard to convince consumers these moves were the future they wanted. But with Apple Pay, the new secure commerce tool in the iPhone 6, iOS may have hit the market at a time consumers are ready for a major technology change. And the aggressive control of on-line commerce technology could be a huge new business for Apple.

Like the original Mac, the iPod, and the iPhone, Apple Pay does not represent much of an Apple technical revolution. The major components have, in fact, been around for quite a while. NFC, the short distance wireless communication technology, has been available on Nokia phones since 2006. EMV, a secure communications protection based on standard chips, is built on technology first developed by Frances Bulle in 1985. The two technologiesthe basic security tech and wireless linkshave been included, if little used, in a variety of mobile devices including most recent Android phones.

Apple is making this move as the desire increases for consumers to pay with credit cards and the ability of retailers and banks to protect the security of those cards is crumbling. From TJ Max to Target to Home Depot, information from millions of consumer credit cards has been stolen in retail transactions. Theres not much retailers can do to defend the cardseven those with the best anti-theft measures are getting ripped off by the millions. They need new technology.

The new approach is your phone replaces your credit card thoughand this is vitalthe credit card number and other information is not stored on the phone. Its hardly a new idea. It has been promoted in Europe for a while, particularly by Nokia. Google Wallet uses the same technology on Android phones to transfer card information from secure network cloud storage to a card processor with well-guarded transmission. But it has failed to achieve much use by consumers because of the failure of Android makers to promote it. Samsung  includes NFC on most of its phones and has been building in EMV since 2002 (!). If you should want to use Google Wallet, Googles web site will give you vague instructions for your Samsung. But I could not find a word of reference to Google Wallet on Samsungs web site. That means most Samsung phone customers will never think of Wallet.

Apple, by contrast, made Apple Pay a prominent feature of the iPhone 6. The banks and credit card companies supporting Apple Pay before the launch of the iPhone 6 had made the service available and began promoting it as soon as the phone was announced. Apple Pay started with the support of Visa, MasterCard, Discover/Diners Club, American Express, and JCB. And, in a hugely important move this week, UnionPay, the largest credit retail processor in China, climbed aboard Apple Pay.

Apple understands it still has to fight for the dominance of Apple Pay, especially in US retailing. As popular as Apple Pay is with banks, small to medium retailers, and a handful of daring big retailers such as Walgreens, some of the leading retailers such as CVS and Wal-mart are blocking it. Instead, they are favoring a rival called CurrentC created by a consortium of large retailers.

Whether the big retailers see an advantage to Apple Pay or not, many of them are prevented from implementing it by contracts they have signed with CurrentC. CurrentC does have an advantage of sorts by being able to work on just about any phoneit uses a QR code on the display and does not require any specific hardware like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

But the disadvantages of CurrenttC are critical. It transmits a considerable amount of information about the owner of the phonethe exact amount is the subject of some disputewhile Apple Pay requires only a single code. Even more important, Apple Pay and the more limited Google Wallet are ready to be used today with the banks and retailers who support it, while CurrentC still has a lot of details, both technical and commercial, to work out before it is available to consumers.

Assuming the initial success of Apple Pay, the challenge for Apple is what to do next. Apple cant make Apple Pay available just by offering a download through the Apple Store. Participation also requires hardware and dedicated software, similar to but not identical to the EMV chips, needed to support communication. The way to get competitors to accept Apple hardware, or perhaps a way to unify the secure retail communications approaches applied by both Apple Pay and Google Wallet, pose a huge challenge.

Of course, the transitional action of Apple is to limit development like this to Apple products. The company traditionally has reserved keeping such devices to itself to protect sales of its products. But Apple could also be in the position to dominate the rapidly growing market for secure retail communications by licensing competitors the hardware and software needed for Apple Pay, which has shot out as the leader of consumers product.

Regions Bank launches video tellers, makes cards available for use with Apple …

Those who bank with Regions can also now take advantage of Apple Pay, a method of payment developed by Apple, which works with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.

Customers who have one of Regions debit cards, consumer credit cards or reloadable prepaid cards will all have access to ApplePay.

Regions is committed to delivering products and services when, where and how our customers choose to bank. Apple Pay gives our customers the opportunityto extend their ability to make purchases with security and ease through their mobile device, said Scott Peters, head of Regions Consumer Services in a company release.