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ID theft victims advocate (0)

Posted in Identity Theft September 13th, 2010 @ 11:29 am by Linda 

If you ever had your identity stolen, you know how draining it is to prove your identity. While there are companies that are willing to help clear your identity- for a price of course – Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Identity Theft Unit, a division of the state police, is now available free for identity theft victims. This division is funded by a $97,000 yearlong federal grant.

Recently, an innocent woman whose identity was stolen by a known felon was pulled over for a minor speeding violation. The State Trooper identified her as the felon and she was handcuffed and taken to jail. After hours of denying that she was the woman who stole her identity, the State Trooper noticed that she didn’t have the tattoos of the known felon. He immediately referred her to the Identity Theft Unit.

The state of Colorado has been proactive in identity theft because the state leads the way in the most identity theft cases nationally. Colorado ranks in the top 10 for the number of ID theft victims with the city of Greeley, Colorado leading the nation among all cities. While catching criminals who steal identity has been moving forward, there were no victim advocates to help the victims through their ordeal. The cases are very complex and extensive.

Now with the CBI Identity Theft Unit, victims have someone to help them through their ordeal.

Skimmers hitting gas stations (0)

Posted in Identity Theft July 18th, 2010 @ 8:53 am by Linda 

Recently in Aurora, Colorado, the police have issued a crime alert to gas stations throughout the city. They have found a credit card skimming device inside a gas pump that captures your financial information. This device uses the magnetic strip on the back of your credit or debit cards every time you swipe your card to pay for gas. This is similar to ATM skimmers that these low-life criminals were using.

This is how it works. Once the skimmers get your credit or debit information, these criminals use card and PIN numbers to clone credit cards or make online purchases with your credit or debit card.

Somehow these criminals have found a generic gas pump key to gain access to the gas pump and installed the skimmers. The skimmers have access directly to the bank card reader.

Because the skimmer is hidden inside the pump it’s almost impossible to detect. While the ATM’s skimmers were obvious, you could see that a device was attached to the outside of the ATM machine.

The best way to stop this type of scam is for both the gas station owners and you to be very vigilant. Police are asking gas station owners to check inside their pumps for the devices and to watch for anyone within 50 yards of their business using a laptop. This is one way these criminals retrieve financial information, wirelessly. Police are also asking gas station owners to put surveillance video at their pumps.

You can help out as well by making sure that you review your gasoline bill monthly or even on line to make sure that you made the transactions on your bill.

Phone scam targets Seniors on Medicare (0)

Posted in Identity Theft April 26th, 2010 @ 11:34 am by Linda 

As we have heard, Medicare fraud is rampant. However, it may not be the senior citizens who are defrauding the system, but criminal scammers. Recently, consumer affairs have issued a phone scam alert that has hit many states throughout the U.S.

Here is how it works: Seniors who are receiving Medicare get a phone call from a fraudulent phone number – 866-234-2255. The people calling claim to be with a “National Medical Office” or “Medicare National Office.” The caller tells the person that they are getting a new Medicare card and will be charged a one-time fee for Medicare premiums or prescription drug plan. Then the caller asks for banking information or a credit card number. These criminals are very insistent and if you complain or want verification, they threaten to cancel your Medicare. Of course, this is a phone scam. These thieves want to steal your identity.

Another phone scam comes from a phone call from a Durable Medical Equipment company that provides medical supplies such as a wheelchair or walker. DME suppliers are not allowed to “cold call” consumers to get orders for supplies. However, the caller says that they want to take an order over the phone and of course needs your Medicare information. Once again, this is a phone scam to either steal your identity or defraud Medicare.

The only time someone from Medicare will call you is when he or she are taking a survey about benefits. No one from Medicare will ask you for your Medicare number or banking information.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, try to get as much information about the caller and the company including a telephone number. Hang up and report the call to your local Stop Medicare Fraud Program in your state.

Caller ID “spoofing” scam to be illegal under legislation (0)

Posted in Identity Theft April 14th, 2010 @ 12:00 pm by Linda 

According to an Associated Press release, using false caller ID with the intent of tricking people into revealing personal information may become illegal under legislation that passed the House on Wednesday.

ID “spoofing” is a growing threat because of new technology making it cheap and easy to change the name and number that phone call recipients see on their caller ID. Here is how it works.

A scammer uses the caller ID of a bank as a way of tricking a person into revealing his Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers. Last year in New York City, police uncovered an identity theft ring that used caller ID spoofing to steal more than $15 million from 6,000 victims. In another case, a woman used the caller ID of a pharmacist to trick a romantic rival into taking a drug used to cause abortions.

The legislation would only outlaw the use of spoofing technology when the intent is to deceive and harm the recipient of the call. Legitimate uses of the technology, such as a domestic abuse shelter changing its number to protect an occupant of the shelter, would still be permitted.

The measure gives the Federal Communications Commission authority to develop regulations to enforce the new law. Violators could be subject to $10,000 in fines and up to a year in prison.

Identity theft at a bar in Minnesota (0)

Posted in Identity Theft April 7th, 2010 @ 1:01 pm by Linda 

In a recent article in the Star Tribune, credit card numbers were stolen from a Stillwater bar and restaurant. Police authorities traced the identity theft to the Mad Capper bar and restaurant.

The identity thieves used the credit card numbers worldwide to rack up charges as mush as $1,200. Charges from Spain and Russia have appeared on the customer’s bank charges. Others have seen charges from restaurants, clothing stores, discount stores and other businesses in California, Texas, South Carolina and New Jersey.

How this may have happened is that the thieves may have set up software in the computer that takes the credit card number when it is swiped. The numbers are then sent to the thief’s computer. In this way, criminals don’t need the physical card to use or they may make “dummy” credit cards with the stolen numbers. Then these criminals can sell the credit card or keep the credit card for their purchases.

Local police are asking for help from the federal government to get involved in catching these identity thieves.

iPad scammers eager to steal your money (0)

Posted in Identity Theft April 2nd, 2010 @ 11:10 am by Linda 

The new iPad from Apple isn’t even out in stores yet, but scammers are out there waiting to steal your money and identity. In Colorado, the Boulder-Denver Better Business Bureau is warning people not to be fooled by iPad offers that sound to good to be true.

Scammers are sending out e-mails, have web sites and even using Facebook pages offering free iPads. One scammer is claiming that they need testers of the iPad and claim that you can keep the iPad after two months. This site asks for your e-mail address and password. Never give out your password to anyone!

You know you are being scammed when you receive an e-mail offer for a free iPad but they ask you to provide a credit card number. If it is suppose to be free, why do they need your credit card number?

On Facebook once you agree to try the iPad you are tricked into buying cell service.

The best way to get an iPad is to buy it an authorized Apple dealer. Once again, if it is too good to be true, it is a scam. Don’t be fooled, protect you identity and your credit.

E-mail collection scam alert for Minnesota (0)

Posted in Identity Theft March 10th, 2010 @ 12:22 pm by Linda 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is warning Minnesotans that there is an e-mail collection scam in Minnesota. The e-mails are from Experian Portfolio Services of St. Paul.

These e-mails say that you owe money to an unnamed creditor and ask you to pay the outstanding balances via PayPal. This is fraudulent and you should NOT provide any personal information or payment to Experian Financial Services of St. Paul.

As you may know, Experian is a global credit bureau but there is no connection between them and the fraudulent e-mails that are being sent out.

Minnesota law requires the Minnesota Department of Commerce license any entity in the business of collecting claims on behalf of another. Neither Experian Portfolio Services nor Experian Financial Services Corp. is a licensed collection agency in Minnesota.

If you receive an e-mail or a letter from Experian Portfolio Services or Experian Financial Services Corp. disregard these e-mails or letters.

Organized crime responsible for identity theft and fraud (0)

Posted in Identity Theft March 9th, 2010 @ 3:01 pm by Linda 

Federal and Minnesota state investigators are working on dismantling a sophisticated fraud ring. Investigators say that the fraud ring involves about 200 members and could be one of the largest cases of its type in this country.

The organized crime ring has members in the Twin Cities and recruits on Facebook and other social networking web sites. This crime ring steals identities, raids bank and credit card accounts and defrauds businesses and banks nationwide. In addition, they buy stolen identities from employees of check cashing services and Internet data brokers.

The fraud ring has roots in West Africa and Eastern Europe. About thirty to forty percent of fraudulent check activity is in the Twin Cities. Some banks working with investigators are Wells Fargo, TCF Bank and US Bank.

Identity theft from someone you think you could trust (0)

Posted in Identity Theft March 2nd, 2010 @ 1:32 pm by Linda 

Everyone knows that giving out “sensitive” information about your identity is not the right thing to do. However, when you are dealing with a cell phone carrier, you would think it would be all right to do. They ask many questions in order to verify that you are the person who is authorized on the account.

A recent article in the Star Tribune, shows that you can’t trust anybody. Tom Driscoll of Tonka Bay was adding minutes to his Virgin Mobile USA cell phone account when the call center representative started asking him questions. He asked for his mother’s maiden name and the last three numbers on the back of his credit card. These questions allowed the call center representative the use of Mr. Driscoll’s credit card on a Sony Play Station.

Mr. Driscoll immediately reported the identify theft to Virgin Mobile USA and canceled his credit card. However, the cell phone company didn’t report the incident to their fraud department. In fact, the cell phone company cut off Driscoll’s service when his credit card payments wouldn’t go through. For two months Driscoll tried to work with the cell phone company and got nowhere.

Finally, he contacted the “Whistleblower” and his cell phone was turned on and he received a free month of cell phone service. However, the point of this incident is that there are people out there ready and willing to steal your identity.

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