Employment-related identity theft much bigger than previously thought


Employment-related identity theft much bigger than previously thought

  • June 22 2017, 2:10pm EDT

The number of victims of employment-related identity theft is far larger than previously estimated and the Internal Revenue Service’s processes aren’t able to keep up, according to a new report.

Employment-related identity theft happens when a criminal uses someone else’s identity to get employment. Many taxpayers first learn they are victims when they get an IRS notice in the mail informing them about a discrepancy in the income reported on their tax returns.

A new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found the IRS failed to identify 497,248 victims of employment-related identity theft, even though criminals electronically filed tax returns with evidence showing they used the victims’ Social Security numbers to gain employment. These victims did not have an IRS tax account, and many were claimed as a dependent on a tax return filed by someone else.

Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George addressing a House subcommittee

Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George addressing a House subcommitteeBloomberg News

For another 60,823 victims, who do have an IRS tax account, the IRS didn’t update the account with the required employment identity theft marker. One reason (more…)

Ask Kim: How can I prevent identity theft when I’m traveling?


Ask Kim: How can I prevent identity theft when I’m traveling?

Kimberly Lankford, Kiplinger’s Personal FinanceKiplinger’s Money Power

Q: Do I need to let my bank and credit card company know before I leave for vacation? What else should I do to protect my identity when I’m traveling?

A: It’s a good idea to notify your bank and credit card issuer before you travel. Many financial institutions have increased efforts to protect against fraud, and it’s becoming much more common for them to deny transactions from an unexpected location. Your account may be frozen until you contact the bank to verify your identity and confirm that the purchases are legitimate.

Call the financial institution’s customer service number or notify the bank online of the dates and location of your travel. You can also take the following steps to protect your identity when you’re preparing for your trip and while you’re on vacation.

1. Clean out your wallet. Pickpockets often focus on busy tourist destinations. Keep your wallet in a place that pickpockets can’t easily access, such as a front pocket, and remove anything in it you don’t need that could be valuable to an ID thief, such as blank checks and cards that list your Social (more…)

Identity theft: A 5-Minute Expert guide to outsmarting the scammers


Identity theft: A 5-Minute Expert guide to outsmarting the scammers


Melissa McCarthy was only acting in Identity Thief. Real scammers make off with a massive amount of personal information every year.

Monday, June 19, 2017 | 2 a.m.

Identity theft refers to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and fraudulently uses another person’s personal data, typically for economic gain.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that almost 20 million people a year become victims of identity theft. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 490,000 related consumer complaints, representing a 47 percent increase over the previous year.

Fraudsters have stolen more than $112 billion over the past six years — about $35,600 every minute.

As quickly as scams are identified and defenses are put up, new tactics emerge. Here are tips on staying ahead of them.


• Stealing wallets, purses or mail

• Stealing information from unsecured websites

• Stealing information from business or personal records

• Rummaging through the trash for personal data

• Posing by phone or email as an employer, landlord, creditor or nonprofit group

• Buying information from inside sources, such as store employees


• Share information discriminatively.

• Securely dispose of documents that contain (more…)

Survey Shows Consumers Need More Education on Identity theft



Survey Shows Consumers Need More Education on Identity theft

In 2016, over 15 million Americans were victims of identity theft, up 16 percent from the previous year.

News of data breaches and the risks of identity theft and fraud persist, but consumers’ vigilance and awareness haven’t kept pace. A national survey by Experian revealed that not only is America’s collective guard down, but people feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to identity theft.

The survey proves that complexity, inconvenience and odds of becoming an identity fraud victim have discouraged consumers from making identity protection best practices part of their lives. While 84 percent of respondents acknowledge being concerned about the security of personal information online, almost two-thirds (64 percent) agree it’s too much of a hassle to constantly worry about securing personal information online. The majority say staying on top of financial transactions is a challenge (53 percent), and nearly half (48 percent) don’t check their credit reports regularly for errors or suspicious activity.

Not to mention, there is a broad misconception that exist regarding identity theft and fraud. In fact, a majority (56 percent) believe the risk of identity theft goes away over time, and more than half (52 (more…)

How The Superhero Approach Can Help You Avoid Identity Theft

06/01/2017 12:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 07, 2017


A recent Experian study found that most people still have a lot to learn about the risk of identity theft. The majority of those surveyed felt like they were safe from identity theft, but not for the right reasons. The most popular misconception was that scammers, phishers and identity thieves only target the rich and possibly famous.

In reality, identity thieves target low-hanging fruit. To an identity thief, we’re all Kim Kardashian.

More than half of the respondents didn’t think they’d make a good target for scammers because of bad credit. This is also a misconception, since a crook will generally have zero scruples about taking over your credit accounts (even with their crippling interest rates), and making them even more impossible to manage by further damaging your credit.

What Makes a Good Target?

The number one criterion is whether or not personally identifiable information (PII) has been compromised in a data breach, but there are other ways that we expose (and overexpose) ourselves. One of the most common ways is through oversharing on social media.

Our information is out there, but there are things we (more…)

On the Prowl: Four Ways to Protect Against Identity Theft


On the Prowl: Four Ways to Protect Against Identity Theft


Identity theft is one of the most-committed crimes across the country, and with 15.4 million victims in 2016 according to the Insurance Information Institute, it appears that identity theft cases will not be declining anytime soon.

From the 15.4 million people affected by identity theft last year, $16 billion was stolen. This is an increase from 2015 where 13.1 million victims lost $15.3 million.

The increase in identity theft is peculiar to some people, as 2016 was the first full year that brick-and-mortar stores were required to accept more secure EMV chip cards, or they would face liability consequences.

“The shift to EMV was supposed to virtually eliminate one type of ID theft, card cloning, which allows criminals to steal account data and write it onto counterfeit cards used to make fraudulent in-store purchases,” said an article by USA Today. “Predictably, criminals shifted away from card cloning and toward card-not-present fraud – largely online purchases, where chips are not necessary.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, identity theft or fraud are each terms used to refer to all types of crime where someone wrongfully (more…)

Curbing Medical Identity Theft with Improved Identification


Curbing Medical Identity Theft with Improved Identification

The Social Security Number Removal Initiative aims to improve patient identification and could have an impact on medical identity theft as well.

Medical identity theft key focus area within CMS' Social Security Number Removal Initiative.

Source: Thinkstock

– Medical identity theft is one of several outcomes that may occur following a healthcare data breach. Individuals may be faced with medical bills for treatments that they never received, and can spend years working to remove the incidents from their record.

However, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative hopes to make necessary strides in reducing this potential risk.

The Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI) intends to mitigate identity theft for Medicare beneficiaries. It will use a randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) on Medicare cards, used for Medicare billing transactions, as well as eligibility and claim status.

A Social Security number-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) is currently used on the cards. CMS explains that private healthcare and financial information can be better protected by eliminating that number.

“Moving to new Medicare numbers and cards requires a lot of changes to our systems and how we do business,” CMS stated on its website. “The same is true for you — our business partners. We’ve already started this work and want to (more…)

How Your Mouse Movement Could Be Used to Stop Identity Theft


How Your Mouse Movement Could Be Used to Stop Identity Theft

Image Source: Monopoly

Most people know the “I’m not a robot” single-click version of CAPTCHA which is able to identify that a user is human by the way that they move their mouse. Researchers have now found a way to apply that principle to catching identity thieves in the act.

One of the biggest issues with identity theft is that if a person has successfully gotten ahold of your personal details, they could use them over and over again. Questions like “what’s your mother’s maiden name?” have evolved into more elaborate queries like “On which of the following streets have you lived?” But even the second question is easily referencable by a motivated identity thief.

That problem is being addressed by a team that recently published the findings of their new study in PLoS One. The mechanism for preventing identity theft is fairly simple but it represents some progress in a field with a lot of potential.

The researchers asked a group of 40 people from Italy (more…)

Feds: Identity theft ring bought information online, used student loan website to get $12 million in tax refunds


Feds: Identity theft ring bought information online, used student loan website to get $12 million in tax refunds

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Two people were indicted on federal charges related to a $12 million scam in which they stole identities in order to file fake tax returns and profit from the refunds.

Taiwo K. Onamuti, 29, Doraville, Ga., and Muideen A. Adebule, 49, Indianapolis, face 23 federal charges including aggravated identity theft, identity theft, false claims and conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that Onamuti and Adebule acquired personal information by buying it online or getting the information through the “data retrieval tool” on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. The two—and others who worked with them—then used the names, birthdates and Social Security numbers to file false tax returns with the IRS, prosecutors said.

They filed thousands of fake tax returns electronically and directed the IRS to deposit the refunds on prepaid debit cards that were then used to buy money orders in Indiana and Georgia. In total, the scammers obtained or attempted to obtain $12,686,634 in federal tax refunds, prosecutors said.

The alleged scam ran from March 2014 through March 2016. The Department of Education and IRS (more…)