Today marks the start of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). As with any new, massive, government-sponsored program, scammers and identity thieves will try to take advantage of the public’s confusion and unfamiliarity with the new Health Exchanges (which we’re calling Obamacare Identity Theft).
Posts tagged "id theft"
Every dollar counts, now more than ever, as the government searches for ways to wisely spend our money. It’s dismaying to learn that an audit report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has found that the impact of identity theft on tax administration is significantly greater than the amount the IRS detects and prevents. Even worse, the “IRS uses little of the data from identity theft cases…to detect and prevent future tax refund fraud” according to Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.
- The IRS is detecting far fewer fake tax returns than are actually falsely filed. 938,700 were detected in 2011. On the other hand, TIGTA identified 1.5M additional undetected tax returns in 2011 with potentially fraudulent tax refunds totaling in excess of $5.2B.
- The study predicted that the IRS stands to lose $21B in revenue over the next 5 years with new fraud controls, or $26B without the new controls.
It’s nerve racking to realize that the IRS increasingly struggles to control taxpayer identity theft. Since 2008, the IRS has identified 470,000 incidents of identity theft affecting more than 390,000 taxpayers. “Victims of tax-related identity theft are the casualties of a system ill-equipped to deal with the growing proficiency and sophistication of today’s tax scam artists” said Sen. Bill Nelson, who chairs the newly formed Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth.
You’ve heard it all before – conduct online business through secure Wi-Fi only, watch your incoming mail for erroneous credit invitations, check your statements and your credit reports, and set up strong passwords and alerts, yada yada! But here are a few additional times you’ll want to be vigilant, especially this holiday season!
- Car Loans. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, auto loan identity theft is twice as high as any other form. Most dealerships have you complete paperwork with identifying personal data (name, address, date of birth, phone number) up to and including a loan application, which likely includes your Social Security Number. How is this data handled? Unless you actually purchase the vehicle, and your paperwork becomes part of a permanent file, refuse to complete it. Most dealerships simply toss your paperwork after 30 days if you don’t make a purchase. Their trash receptacle then becomes a pre-qualified source for identity thieves.
UPI.com wrote a story on the punishment for a recent Identity Theft case which shows how sentencing is finally catching up to the severity of this crime.
Oscar Diaz and his confederates used items stolen from parked cars to get money from their victims’ bank accounts, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Prosecutors say they stole from people attending funerals.
“Diaz’s co-conspirators would even follow funeral processions in order to target cars parked at graveyards,” a release from Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.
Diaz, 30, of Fort Lauderdale pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore earlier this month to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. At a hearing Friday he was ordered to pay the victims $130,000.
This past week, I have been helping a gentleman recover from the theft of all of his tax records. Before it is all over, this gentleman will have spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars simply preventing any further fraudulent use of his identity. That doesn’t account for any damages already done to his finances, criminal record, medical records or social security benefits. There is very little that is more damaging and dangerous to your identity than losing your tax records. After all, tax records generally contain the most sensitive personally identifying information that you own, including Social Security Numbers (for you, your spouse and maybe even your kids), names, addresses, employers, net worth, etc. Because of this high concentration of sensitive data, tax time is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for identity thieves. Here are some of the dishes on which they greedily feed:
A few weeks ago, Javelin Safety & Research released its comprehensive survey on Identity Theft & Fraud for the fifth consecutive year.
Let me boil it down to the Top 5 Identity Theft Findings that impact you (and my comments and opinions in parentheses):
- Overall Identity Fraud Incidents Increased in the United States (the problem is getting worse as the economy sinks and people turn to crime to pay their bills)
- Costs to Consumers are Down (businesses are being forced to take greater responsibility for the liabilities and costs of identity theft – in other words, the burden is shifting from the consumer to corporate America)
- Fraudsters are Moving Much More Quickly (the crime of identity theft is moving from garden variety criminals into the hands of organized crime)
Technology is not the root cause of identity theft, data breach or cyber crime.
Too often, technology is our scapegoat, providing a convenient excuse to sit apathetically in our corner offices, unwilling to put our money where our profits are. Unwilling, in this case, to even gaze over at the enormous profit-sucking sound that is mass data theft. The deeper cause of this crisis festers in the boardrooms of corporate America. Like an overflowing river, poor privacy leadership flows inexorably downhill from the CEO, until at last, it undermines the very banks that contain it.
The identity theft and data breach bottom line?
I just finished delivering an identity theft speech for the Department of Defense to the Airmen and Women of Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton, Florida. It is the highest honor for me to be able to serve the United States military, who so valiantly and humbly serve every American. Thank you Eglin AFB, and a special thanks to the person who asked me to clarify this question after the speech:
Is LifeLock identity theft monitoring service truly free to military personnel, or is it just for certain personnel?