Tag: id theft

3 men sought in Prattville ID theft investigation


Prattville investigators are asking the public for help identifying three men who may possibly be connected to a case of identity theft. The victim reported that their credit/debit card information was stolen and then used at a store in the Montgomery area back on Feb. 3.

Davis Apartment Manager Accused of ID Theft; Police Suspect More Victims


Davis police investigators say they believe there are many more victims of an apartment manager who was arrested on suspicion of stealing the identities of prospective tenants.

William Raymond Stanley, Jr., was known as Erik Hamilton to tenants and the owners of the Tuscany Villas Apartments in East Davis. But the 30-year-old apparently has a felony conviction in Sacramento County, as well as a history of arrests for fraud, perjury and identity theft.

Police say the apartment owners started investigating Hamilton after his name showed up on credit card accounts of a tenant. They then turned the case over to the Davis police who raided his apartment last week, confiscating computers and files and arrested him.

Tenants now worry about the personal information that management has on file, information willingly given to landlords by prospective tenants.

Everything you can imagine is required of you — copies of IDs, social security numbers and so on, said tenant Marjorie Vargas.

Police have identified four victims, including one from Winters. They are still examining Stanleys computers.

Were looking at the possibility of a substantial amount of victims at this point, we dont know how many, said Davis Police Lt. Paul Doroshov.

Police say the suspect presented his employers a DMV issued drivers license under his false name. They say they would like to speak with anyone who might have had dealings with Stanley or might have been a victim.

Police say personal information is often required by employers and landlords and say the only advice they can give is to constantly check credit and bank accounts to catch unauthorized charges as soon as possible.

Nervous tenant James Thurman says hell do just that.

Now more so than ever, definitely going to double-check on that, he said.

Singletary: Clearing name after ID theft can be taxing

You probably missed these observances last week, but don’t miss the message.

The National Cyber Security Alliance designated Jan. 28 as “Data Privacy Day” in an effort to make people more aware of the importance of protecting their personal information. “Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week,” promoted by the Federal Trade Commission, ran from Jan. 25-29.

Both are good campaigns. And while there are some things we can do to protect our privacy, the reality is that guarding our personal data is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. It’s a tough task. Just ask Crystal, a Virginia woman who had her identity stolen last year. A fraudulent tax return was then filed in her name.

Crystal, who asked that her last name not be used, worries that she’ll be victimized again this year. No matter what Crystal did to protect her data — faithfully checking her credit reports, for example — she couldn’t fend off the scoundrels who used her Social Security number to file a 1040-EZ return. 

For people like Crystal who’ve been victimized, the IRS has a list of recommended actions. Crystal followed the steps last year after she realized her data had been compromised. She filed a paper return, attaching IRS Form 14039, the “Identity Theft Affidavit.” She called the IRS’ Identity Protection Specialized Unit (800-908-4490) to answer questions in order to prove she was the real taxpayer.   

Crystal said she was told by the IRS that, prior to the start of this year’s filing season, she would receive a special “Identity Protection Personal Identification Number,” or IP PIN, in the mail to help protect her tax returns going forward. 

She’s still waiting on the number.

So she called the IRS’ identity-protection unit again. The advice she got was simply to file her return early. 

“I told them I will file as early as I can and had planned on doing that, but I have to wait until I get W-2s and 1099s, whereas the fraudsters can just make up numbers and file before me,” Crystal told me in an interview. “I am so frustrated. I feel like I’ve been left out in the cold by the IRS.”

A spokesperson for the IRS said taxpayers who had their identities used to file fraudulent returns generally will be eligible for the special PIN after their cases have been resolved. This year, the IRS sent 2.7 million taxpayers IP PINs. As for Crystal, the IRS said an additional small group of taxpayers should receive their notices in the next couple weeks. 

Earlier this month, the IRS announced it was beefing up measures to help taxpayers. As part of a test program, all taxpayers in the District of Columbia, Florida and Georgia — regardless of whether they are identity victims — can apply to get the six-digit IP PIN to use with their tax returns. These three locations were chosen because of their higher rates of identity theft, the IRS said. 

To opt into the program, you can create an account at IRS.gov/getanippin. As part of the registration process, you’ll have to verify your identity. Please note that once you get an IP PIN, you can’t opt out. You will have to use the number to confirm your identity on all federal tax returns you file this year and in subsequent years.

Here are some other resources to be proactive when it comes to tax-related identity theft:

o Read IRS Publication 4524, “Security Awareness for Taxpayers.”

o Go to youtube.com/user/irsvideos and look for the 13 videos in the agency’s “Identify Theft” playlist. 

If you become a victim, here are some resources on irs.gov to help you start clearing things up: 

o Read this guide: “IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works.”

o You have the option of requesting a copy of the fraudulent return. It will be redacted, but the IRS says there’ll be enough information to determine how your information was used. Search for “Instructions for Requesting Copy of Fraudulent Returns.”

The FTC recently announced that people can now get a free, personalized plan to help recover from identify theft, including tips, online forms and template letters. Go to identitytheft.gov. There is a customized option if someone else has used your information to file a tax return. The site is also integrated with the FTC’s consumer complaint system and will allow identity-theft victims to file a complaint with the agency. 

The timing of the site launch should really help people like Crystal. But if you become an identity theft victim, dig deep for a lot of patience, because clearing your name can be taxing.

Michelle Singletary welcomes comments and column ideas. Reach her in care of The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071; or singletarym@washpost.com.

FTC: Tax Fraud Behind 47% Spike in ID Theft

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today said it tracked a nearly 50 percent increase in identity theft complaints in 2015, and that by far the biggest contributor to that spike was tax refund fraud. The announcement coincided with the debut of a beefed up FTC Web site aimed at making it easier for consumers to report and recover from all forms of ID theft.

In kicking off Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, FTC released new stats showing that the agency received more than 490,000 identity theft complaints last year, a 47 percent increase over 2014. In a conference call with the news media, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez called tax refund fraud the largest and fastest growing ID theft category that the commission tracks.

COLUMN: ID theft has incalculable impact on us

A few days ago, we received a complaint form to complete and return to the company holding the bag here – an $800 one at that. The Federal Trade Commission developed the paperwork as a means for ID theft victims to dispute unauthorized charges or purchases. Neither one of us has any tolerance whatsoever for paperwork, and this request simply added insult to injury.

Man uses ID theft to start party business, police say

The victims of id theft are not responsible for these purchases, said financial crimes unity detective David Passmore. So, the loan companies that actually bought the products for him will end up being the true victims.

Police say Ramirez took out loans from five different finance companies to purchase the goods found inside the home.

Police arrested Ramirez in Fresno in September. They followed the evidence in the case to Riverdale, where the suspect was living with his wife.

Ramirez faces multiple counts of ID theft and grand theft.

Fight back against ID theft

Identity theft remains a serious and on-going problem.

About 13 million Americans became victims last year, according to a new report by Javelin Strategy Research. Thats up three percent from 2014.

The Javelin report found that many people dont do the simple things that could flag fraud. For example, have you set up real-time alerts with your credit card companies and financial institutions?

If not, you really need to do it.

Set up alerts for things like large transactions, card-not-present transactions and overseas transactions. And these can be sent to your email address or your mobile device by text, explained Al Pascual, Javelins director of fraud and security. Youre deputizing yourself to prevent fraud and you are going to know better than the bank whether something is legitimate. Its a great way to be an active participant in the process.

Something else you can do. Check your financial accounts every week or so to look for any suspicious transactions. If you spot something, contact the bank or credit card company right away.

Remember: When it comes to identity fraud, the sooner its detected, the better – losses tend to be smaller and its easier to undo the damage.

Be involved. Do your part to fight fraud.

More Info: Identity Thieves Changing Tactics to Steal Your Money, Report Says