IRS Needs Anti-Theft Solutions for Increase in Tax Fraud

by Mike Miller April 14, 2014

This is the second in a series of blogs here at stoptheftclass.com looking at an all-too common form of theft – tax fraud. It is terrifying just how easy it is.

Across the country, the theft of taxpayer identities has taken off, while receiving far less attention than the loss of credit card information. As reported in www.bostonglobe.com.

How easy is this? One convicted of tax fraud said it was so simple all you needed was a 6th grade education. Even some drug dealers, always with an eye out for easy profits, have turned to taxpayer identity theft after hearing how uncomplicated it was to scam the IRS. A medical assistant at a nursing home stole the identities of hundreds of patients. A prison guard stole the identities of inmates and filed false returns under their names.

Just how rampant is tax fraud? All told, in just the first six months of last year, 1.6 million taxpayers were affected by identity theft, compared with 271,000 for all of 2010, according to a recent audit by the Treasury Department’s inspector general. While the IRS said it discovered many of the incidents, the cumulative thefts have resulted in billions of dollars in potentially fraudulent refunds, according to an array of government reports.

One IRS Commissioner admitted that a friend of his, who also happens to be the chief of police for one municipality claims that street crime is down because everybody is now filing false IRS returns.

We will continue to look at tax fraud in the next stoptheftclass.com blog.

When People Steal from the IRS

by Mike Miller April 9, 2014

With identity theft at an all-time high the Internal Revenue Service is having fits. Some yahoos go so far as to advertise that they are experts at identity and tax fraud. With so much access to social media, these morons best beware that the IRS will hunt them down.

Rashia Wilson is one such cheat! Wilson bought a $92,000 Audi, proclaimed herself a millionaire, and announced on her Facebook page that she was “the queen of IRS tax fraud!” She got caught. As reported in www.bostonglobe.com.

But even more than her flamboyance, it was the seeming ease of her crime that was most stunning: She and an accomplice were alleged to have hijacked the identities of other taxpayers to get fraudulent refunds. They used stolen Social Security numbers, a computer, and basic knowledge of how to file a tax return.

The Florida mother of three was caught and pleaded guilty to stealing at least $3 million. She and her attorney had the audacity to blame the IRS, asking it to figure out a way to prevent this from happening in the future, so someone with a sixth-grade education can’t defraud them so easily.

We will continue to look at tax fraud in the next stoptheftclass.com blog.

School Secretary Heading to Anti-Theft Class

by Mike Miller April 4, 2014

As most of my loyal readers here the stoptheftclass.com blog know, I hate to hear stories of embezzlement. It drives me nuts when people empowered in positions of trust steal and betray those who rely on them. This is one such story.

Sherry Ann McGlory was caught by an internal audit found that the secretary at Bolton High School in Alexandria, Virginia had misappropriated nearly $46,000 within 18 months before she retired last fall. As reported in www.thetowntalk.com.

The 60-year-old McGlory was obviously trying to supplement her retirement in the wrong manner. It was no surprise that she retired shortly after being questioned about the missing funds. Unfortunately for her, retirement would not keep her out of jail.

School management discovered the secretary responsible for making deposits, was misappropriating the funds in August 2013 when the board’s internal school auditor was performing a specified procedure review.

Simply enough, McGlory was stealing cash collections worth $45,905.65. After being caught she brought a $41,000 cashier’s check to the School Board office to repay some of the funds.

How do you feel about this? Have you heard of similar situations in your neck of the woods? I hope that McGlory is mandated to take an anti-theft program, and in her retirement to serve a few hundred hours of community service.

Online Theft Education Course Helps Protect Against ID Theft

by Mike Miller March 30, 2014

As a teacher of theft education I am  committed to helping my readers overcome negative urges to steal and protect themselves from others attempting to rob them. One of the most frightening forms of theft comes at you indirectly and hits hard – identity theft.

In my last entry, I suggested initial steps you can take once you believe you have become the victim of identity theft. Today we will look at steps you can take to keep from becoming a victim. As reported in www.ydr.com.

You need to issue a fraud alert with one of the credit bureaus and file a police report and immediately put a freeze on the credit card or available credit. This blocks the ability from anybody trying to access that information from being able to obtain it.

One can also file an extended alert, which lasts seven years.

In the meantime, reach out to the businesses where you believe your information was falsely used.

If you have been victimized, there is no doubt collection agencies may be hounding you. Remember that despite being in collection always follow the cardinal rule: do not pay anything that you are disputing.

Investigators see blatant instances everyday where people don't protect their identity. Maybe they leave bank statements sitting in the mailbox too long or fail to shred important documents. Other people  provide information over the phone to unverified sources.

"There are so many scams out there. We have to be very careful," Flickinger said. "A lot of people have gone through — excuse my French — hell trying to get their lives together again."

Refer to my last blog for detailed tips on How to Check your Credit Report and Tips on Preventing Identity Theft.

Can Theft Prevention Course Keep Your Identity Safe?

by Mike Miller March 25, 2014

In our last blog we looked at the data theft at the mega-retailer Target as well as how easily thieves can steal your identity from a simple ATM receipt. We also looked at the horrific repercussions that can occur when this happens.

Do, just how are you supposed to keep your identity safe? As reported in www.ydr.com.

First, if you suspect your identity has been stolen you should place an initial fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

Bear in mind that you only have to notify one because the agency you notified is obligated to notify the other two.

Then, you'll be entitled to a free credit report. This is in addition to the one free report per agency you're entitled to annually. It is always a good idea to get your free annual credit report. You will be surprised to find things on there that do not belong.

If you do find something on your report, in addition to issuing a fraud alert with the credit bureau, I also recommend you file a report with the local police department.

If they won't take a statement, he added, report the incident to the state police, county sheriff or attorney general's office.

The next step involves creating and submitting a full blown theft report, which includes the police report, to the Federal Trade Commission.

We will continue to look at how you can protect yourself in the next stoptheftclass.com blog.

"The consumer can put a freeze on their credit or their credit report," Bair said. "This blocks the ability from anybody trying to access that information from being able to obtain it."

One can also file an extended alert, which lasts seven years, Bair said.

In the meantime, reach out to the businesses where you believe your information was falsely used.

And, despite collection agency calls, always follow the cardinal rule:

Do not pay anything that you are disputing, Bair said.

"It's easier said than done to prove," Flickinger added. "It's very involved. A lot of companies just don't roll over on this. When they do, they're going to give up income in many cases. They've been taken advantage of also."

When members are scammed, it's usually the financial institutions that pay the major price.

At First Capital, more than 1,000 debit cards and 30 credit cards were compromised by the Target breach. None of them, Flickinger said, were involved with fraudulent purchases.

The credit union spent $5,000 to mitigate the issue — a cost that includes the reissuing and sending of new cards.

To recoup those costs, Flickinger said, the credit union will likely join a class action lawsuit against Target — a measure typical in cases of large scale information theft.

Similar instances, he added, happen with smaller, regional retailers on a more regular basis than people realize.

"We suck up fraud," he added. "But they've allowed that exposure. We can't charge our members for that, because it was fraudulent. We have to pay that. It comes out of all of our members pockets as a financial co-op."

And that's frustrating, Flickinger said.

He sees blatant instances everyday, he said, where people don't protect their identity.

Maybe they leave bank statements sitting in the mailbox too long.

Maybe they don't shred important documents.

They provide information over the phone to unverified sources.

"There are so many scams out there. We have to be very careful," Flickinger said. "A lot of people have gone through — excuse my French — hell trying to get their lives together again."

How to check your credit report

Reviewing your credit report can help detect early signs of identity theft.

Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

To request a report,visit www.annualcreditreport.com, the only official site endorsed by the U.S. government, or call Call 1-877-322-8228.

Check that the information and scan for the following signs of identity theft:

• Credit card charges that you don't recognize

• Calls or letters about things you didn't buy

• Bills that arrive on unusual days

• New credit cards or statements for accounts that you didn't open

• Denials of credit for no apparent reason

• Information on your credit reports you don't recognize, such as accounts or addresses

SOURCE: www.annualcreditreport.com

Tips to prevent identity theft

• Check your credit reports regularly for fraudulent transactions.

• Use e-statements for bank accounts.

• If you still get paper statements, don't let them sit around in your mailbox for days. Thieves can get a hold of those documents, which contain enough information to masquerade as you. Or, install a locked mailbox.

• Don't throw your ATM receipts in the trash or on the ground. They, too, contain enough information that a thief an use to piece together your identity.

• Make sure no one is hovering over you as you use the ATM.

• Opt out of any pre-approved offers for credit cards.

• Do not give any personal information over the phone. Put your phone number on the "do not call" list.

• Commit all passwords to memory. Never write them down or carry them with you.

• Shred documents before discarding them in the trash.

Stop Theft Classes Can Even Help With Identity Theft

by Mike Miller March 19, 2014

One of the most terrifying things on the planet is identity theft. I remember the 1995 film “The Net” starring Sandra Bullock where she had her identity stolen. It seemed so impossible at the time. Now it is a terrifying reality and occurs for thousands every day.

Let’s face it - we've all done it. You get a receipt from the ATM and toss it in the trash or the floor. Say you're a member at First Capital Federal Credit Union. As reported in www.ydr.com.

What's really on that receipt, anyway? It seems like it is just A few numbers, your name, and the credit union. So what? It doesn't even list your full account number.

First of all, you're telling someone you have an account at First Capital. With that little bit of information, a really smart identity thief could actually call and obtain additional personal information. Pretty soon, we're convinced we're talking to that person.

I am sure you heard about the data theft when criminals forced their way into Target's system, gaining access to guest credit and debit card information.

Information stolen, according to the retailer's website, includes names, mailing addresses, email addresses or phone numbers. Target estimates that up to 70 million individuals could be affected.

The Horrific Repercussions

If your data was used to borrow money or purchase items, it can be a long road to repair your credit. It is going to negatively impact your credit report for a long time. It could impact your ability to get new credit cards, get a job, rent a home, anything like that.

So what should you do to protect yourself? We will look at this in our next stoptheftclass.com blog.

Maldives Islands Needs to Implement Stop Theft Classes

by Mike Miller March 14, 2014

If you are a regular reader, you know that the stoptheftclass.com blog likes to look at theft cases around the globe. Today we will look at the Maldives where crime is rampant.

Cases of theft reported to police last month increased by 46 percent compared to January 2013, according to crime statistics from the Maldives Police Service (MPS). As reported in minivannews.com.

In January alone there were a total of 623 cases of theft reported to police– an average of 20 cases a day – while 427 cases were reported in the same period last year.

Some 51 cases of theft and four cases of robbery have been reported so far in February (the first 2 days). What could be going on that there is such a surge in theft.

Cases of robbery also rose from 54 in January 2013 to 88 cases last month.

A Disturbing Trend – Both Theft and Drugs

Reported instances of theft had increased dramatically in 2012 compared to the previous year. While 4,734 cases of theft were reported in 2011, the number rose to 6,572 in 2012 – a 38 percent annual increase. The figure climbed to 6,681 in 2013. Robbery and theft currently account for roughly 50 percent of crimes reported to police.

Next to theft, the second highest number of cases reported in January 2014 involved drugs. Perhaps drugs and addiction issues are to blame.

The number of drug cases filed last month reached 461, which represents a 56 percent hike compared to January 2013, during which police began investigating 295 cases.

The total number of crimes reported to police meanwhile increased by 20 percent compared with January of last year. While 1,742 cases were reported this year, the figure was 1,436 in January 2013.

What do you make of this increase? Are drugs and theft increasing in your area? I look forward to your thoughts and opinions?

Target Thieves Need Online Stop Theft Program

by Mike Miller March 9, 2014

Identity theft is a terrifying thing. Being robbed of anything feels like a total violation of the soul. Identity theft takes it to an entirely new level. Just how bad the recent theft of credit card information from Target remains to be seen. However, this is a theft of epic proportions.

I am sure you are aware of the heist. Target confirmed that over 40 million credit card numbers and their pins were directly stolen through a glitch in their transaction system which exposed the data for hackers to gain access. This means that the Target glitch, its successive break-in by hackers, has become one of the largest intentional breaches in American credit card history. As reported in www.mariettatimes.com.

There is a solution to this type of theft. Banks and credit industry leaders are coming in for the rescue, wanting to use "new" card designs that have been popular in Europe and elsewhere that utilize RFID chips or integrated circuits in the cards to hold the information more securely than magnetic strips.

Did you know that the Target Corporation has its very own forensic labs which rival the governments’ own. Called Target Forensic Services, these forensic labs are primarily used internally for Target's own purposes like investigating fraud and organized retail crimes. Target goes even further than that, by using their state of the art facilities in Las Vegas and Minneapolis, to help the U.S. government with some of its toughest cases including felony, homicide, and other special investigations.

Is this the future of credit cards? What do you think? How safe do you feel about using a credit card? Do you think mandatory theft educational courses would reduce this type of crime?

Hotel Thief Needs Advanced Theft Prevention Curriculum

by Mike Miller March 4, 2014

Being robbed while you are a patron at a hotel is always a concern. Normally you worry that the housekeeping staff will pilfer some of your belongings. Don’t laugh – it has been known to happen.

The following story takes theft at a hotel to a whole new level. As reported in thetandd.com.

A man in South Carolina has been charged with the theft of 30 appliances worth more than $4,000 from a local hotel. How do you steal 30 appliances before getting caught?

The thief is one Gerardo Amezola. He was charged with grand larceny after 18 mini refrigerators and 12 microwaves were reported stolen.

Hotel employees called police after witnessing the 56-year-old Amezola and three others enter a storage area and remove the appliances. This was kind of an inside job as Amezola had been fired from the hotel four days earlier.

When arrested by police, Amezola admitted that he had met two individuals who provided him with beer and liquor. When it came up in conversation that one of the men needed a refrigerator, Amezola said he knew where to get one. Sure why not just steal one from his former employer.

He said he was paid nothing, except for the alcohol.

Was it the drugs and alcohol that caused him to have such a lapse in judgment? Wasn’t getting fired from his job enough? Does he really need to ruin his life over a few thousand bucks worth of appliances?

I hope he is mandated to take an advanced theft educational course to teach him not to steal again.

Does Cold Weather Create Need for 24 Hour Theft Class?

by Mike Miller February 27, 2014

I know what you are thinking, how can that headline be true. Anyone who ever has lived in cold weather probably has an inkling as to what I am talking about. When the temperature drops cars need to warm up before being driven. Often people start their car and then go in and finish getting ready for work.

Leaving a car running while you are away is a bad idea. Four teens in Louisiana are going to spend some serious time in jail for taking advantage of this situation. As reported in www.wafb.com.

The four teenagers, including two juveniles, have been arrested for a rash of car thefts after six vehicles were stolen. It happened between December 16th and January 7th. They were using the cold weather to find easy targets.

Take it from personal experience, there is nothing worse than waking up on a cold morning, starting your engine to defrost the windshield, and thinking you are safe to go back inside of your warm home, only to return five or ten minutes later and discover your vehicle gone.

Two 17-year-old Gonzales residents, Christopher Heard and Deontre Joseph, were taken into custody along with two 16-year-old suspects whose names are being withheld because they are underage.

The teens targeted cars with keys left in them by the owners, unlocked cars, or vehicles left running to warm or windshields to defrost.

People need to be aware that this happens. The rule should be to never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle unlocked. If you do, the chances of your car getting jacked increases exponentially.

These four teens have damaged their lives by their actions. Despite being underage this could remain part of their permanent record and affect them throughout their loves. I hope they are mandated to take a 24 hour anti-stealing class in addition to counseling for their aberrant behavior.

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