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Anti-identity theft freeze gaining momentum

The security freeze on your credit file (which is different from an "alert") is not for everyone. But it offer the most protection possible from identity theft--at a price. See the FAQ for more about freeze and alerts. Also note that freezes are only available in California, Texas, Louisiana & Vermont. --ScamSafe Editor

NEW YORK (AP) -- Little by little, a weapon against identity theft is gaining currency -- but few people know about it.

It's called the security freeze, and it lets individuals block access to their credit reports until they personally unlock the files by contacting the credit bureaus and providing a PIN code.

The process is a bit of a hassle, and the credit-reporting industry believes it complicates things unnecessarily.

from CNN

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on August 3, 2004 at 09:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

7 tips to protect yourself from phishing scams

Although complete prevention is virtually impossible, there are some logical precautionary measures that both consumers and corporations can take in an attempt to reduce the potential of being conned by phishing scams. Here are 7 tips to protect yourself, from Fraud Watch International

1. SPAM Filters
Effective SPAM filters can reduce the number of fraudulent and malicious emails consumers are exposed to. SPAM filters can be applied at the Internet Service Provider's email gateway, or as software on the user's computer. It is recommended that both filters be applied to all emails.

2. Anti-Virus Software
To protect against Trojan and worm attacks, anti-virus software can detect and delete virus files before they can attack a computer. It is important to keep all anti-virus software up to date with vendor updates.

3. Personal Firewall
Firewalls can monitor both incoming and outgoing Internet traffic from a computer. This can protect the computer from being hacked into, and a virus being planted, and can also block unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet, such as Trojans, worms and spyware.

4. Padlock & “https://”
When submitting sensitive financial and personal information on the Internet, look for the locked padlock on the Internet browser's status bar or the “https://” at the start of the URL in the address bar. Although there is no guarantee of the site's legitimacy or security if they are present, the absence of these indicates that the web site is definitely not secure.

5. Links in emails
Consumers should not click on hyperlinks within emails that are apparently from a legitimate company. Instead, directly type in the URL in the Internet browser address bar, or call the company on a contact number previously verified or known to be genuine.

6. Update Software
Always ensure operating and browser software is kept up to date using legitimate upgrades and patches issued by the software vendor. This can help protect against known security issues within some software.

7. Education
Internet Fraud methods are evolving at a rapid rate. Consumers need to be aware they are vulnerable as fraudsters are persuasive and convincing; many victims thought they were too smart to be scammed. Consumers should educate themselves on Internet Fraud, the trends and continual changes in fraudulent methods used. FraudWatch International offers consumer education as a free service to the Internet community.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on July 24, 2004 at 03:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Freezing your credit file in California

Important information for California consumers

California residents have the option of "freezing" their credit file. A security freeze means that your credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors, insurance companies or employers doing background checks. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without checking a consumer's credit history first. If your credit file is frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number would probably not be able to get credit in your name (it is NOT a guarantee however). This security freeze is different than a fraud alert. It came about from the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act, Penal Code Sections 1785.1 - 1785.36

Should I get a security freeze on my file?
ScamSafe does not recommend that everyone use a security freeze, since it can be a substantial inconvenience at times. It depends on your situation. However, it does provide the strongest protection for you if you are an identity theft victim or suspect that you may be. If the fear of ID theft is keeping you awake at night, your best bet may be a credit monitoring service (available on this web site), although that costs more.

How do I enable a security freeze?
To freeze your credit file, you have to write to all three of the credit bureaus. You must give them information to identify yourself. A security freeze is free for identity theft victims with a police report of identity theft. The charge for placing the freeze is $10. The freeze stays on until you end it. There is no charge for ending the freeze. The fee for lifting the freeze temporarily is $10 for a date-range lift and $12 for a lift for a specific creditor. The request must be sent by certified mail. The addresses and sample letters for the three credit bureaus can be found here: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Give your first name, middle initial and last name, with Jr., etc. Give your home address, your Social Security number and your birth date. You may pay by check, money order or credit card. If paying by credit card, give name of card, account number and expiration date. Experian apparently requires two proofs of residence. A proof of residence may be a copy of your driver's license, a copy of a utility bill, or a copy of a bank statement.

How do I contact the credit bureaus by telephone?
You can get current information on security freezes from the credit bureaus. Call them at the numbers listed below. Equifax 800-685-1111; Experian 888-397-3742 [Select the option to hear California Notice of Rights]; Trans Union 888-909-8872 (this is the special freeze line).

How is a fraud alert different from a security freeze?
A fraud alert means that a special message is placed on the credit report that a creditor receives when checking a consumer's credit rating. It tells the creditor that there may be fraud involved in the account. A fraud alert can help protect you against identity theft--but does not guarantee that the creditor will act in a certain way. A fraud alert can also slow down your ability to get new credit. It should not stop you from using your existing credit cards or other accounts. The three credit agencies use a fraud alert in this way:
· Experian: The fraud alert tells creditors to verify the identity of the person applying for credit.
· Equifax: The alert tells the creditor to call the consumer at a given phone number before issuing new credit.
· Trans Union: The alert may say either to verify identity or to call the consumer at a given number.

How do I open new credit accounts if my file is frozen?
If you want to open a new credit account or get a new loan, you can lift the freeze on your credit file. You can lift it for a period of time. Or you can lift it for specific creditors. After you send your letter asking for the freeze, each of the credit bureaus will send you a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You will also get instructions on how to lift the freeze. You can lift the freeze by phone, using your PIN. The credit bureaus must lift your freeze within three days. The fee for lifting the freeze temporarily is $10 for a date-range lift and $12 for a lift for a specific creditor.

How long does it take for a security freeze to take effect, and to be lifted?
Credit bureaus must place the freeze no later than five business days after receiving your written request. Credit bureaus must lift a freeze no later than three business days of receiving your request.

What will a creditor who requests my file see if it is frozen?
A creditor will see a message, or a code, indicating that the file is frozen.

Can a creditor get my credit score if my file is frozen?
No. A creditor who requests your file from one of the three credit bureaus will only get a message, or a code, indicating that the file is frozen.

Can I order my own credit report if the file is frozen?
Yes.

Can anyone see my credit file if it is frozen?
When you have a security freeze on your credit file, certain entities still have access to it. Your report can still be released to your existing creditors or to collection agencies acting on their behalf. They can use it to review or collect on your account. Other creditors may also use your information to make offers of credit-unless you opt out of receiving such offers. See below for how to opt out of pre-approved credit offers. Government agencies may have access for collecting child support payments or taxes or for investigating Medi-Cal fraud. Government agencies may also have access in response to a court or administrative order, a subpoena, or a search warrant.

Do I have to freeze my credit file with all three credit bureaus?
Yes. Different credit issuers may use different credit bureaus. If you want to stop your credit file from being viewed, you need to freeze it with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

Will a freeze lower my credit score?
No.

Does freezing my file mean that I won't receive pre-approved credit offers?
No. You can stop the pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT. This will stop most of the offers, the ones that go through the credit bureaus. It's good for two years or you can make it permanent.

Source: California Bureau of Consumer Affairs, Office of Privacy Protection

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on July 8, 2004 at 05:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How phone companies enable fraud

ScamSafe has been reporting on a work-at-home check cashing scam (operating under various names, i.e. Xian Energy, Nextdayfinance, PureXian.biz). In the past we commented on how job web sites post ads for these thieves and thus enable their crimes--even after being notified that these are illegal operations. Another culprit is the phone companies which provide the telephone and fax lines. Dick Hambrice, a victim of this crime ring, has been doggedly trying to shut them down by contacting job boards, web hosters and telephone companies.

Dick reports, "The Compton phones (for Nextdayfinance) belong to PacWest Telecom. I emailed them a couple of weeks ago letting them know about the criminal enterprise using them. Their reply was 'This information is being sent to our customer who the number is leased out to. They will investigate and take the appropriate actions. Thank you, Network Operations Security.'" Dick continues, "I called the numbers this morning and they are still working."

It appears that PacWest is asleep at the wheel, while thousands of consumers are being ripped off by this international crime ring. Shame on PacWest--and whichever company is leasing their lines.

Category: Consumer Tips, Identity Theft News
Posted on June 17, 2004 at 09:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Reporting check cashing & other Internet scams

ScamSafe has been contacted by a number of victims of the check cashing work-at-home scams asking what they should do. So we contacted the FBI and this is what we were told.

"Anyone who responded to these fraudulent schemes--whether you lost money or not--should file an online report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). Your report will be analyzed and disseminated to the appropriate federal, state and local law enforcement to help ensure a coordinated investigation. Anyone who lost money should also report the matter to law enforcement, whether it be the local FBI office* or Police Department."

Also, if you lost money, wired money or gave out your account number, you should contact the fraud department of your bank and probably close the account immediately. Although checking or savings accounts don't have the same protections against fraud as credit cards, your bank may provide recompense for lost funds--it's worth asking. And you'll need a police report to back up your claims.


* To find your local FBI field office go to www.fbi.gov.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack

Reporting check cashing & other Internet scams

ScamSafe has been contacted by a number of victims of the check cashing work-at-home scams asking what they should do. So we contacted the FBI and this is what we were told.

"Anyone who responded to these fraudulent schemes--whether you lost money or not--should file an online report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). Your report will be analyzed and disseminated to the appropriate federal, state and local law enforcement to help ensure a coordinated investigation. Anyone who lost money should also report the matter to law enforcement, whether it be the local FBI office* or Police Department."

Also, if you lost money, wired money or gave out your account number, you should contact the fraud department of your bank and probably close the account immediately. Although checking or savings accounts don't have the same protections against fraud as credit cards, your bank may provide recompense for lost funds--it's worth asking. And you'll need a police report to back up your claims.


Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (165) | TrackBack

Stolen Wallet Can Lead to Stolen Identity

As the summer vacation season approaches, a former master forger -- and leading fraud prevention expert -- warns the theft of your wallet or purse may be the first step in the theft of your identity.

"Pickpockets used to get their money by using stolen credit cards right away before a theft could be reported," Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. warned. "But now, some of these thieves are using a stolen wallet or purse as the first step in stealing someone's identity.

"Here's how the scam works: After stealing your wallet, a thief goes to a pay phone and calls your home to report finding your wallet and offers to return it shortly thereafter. While you wait, the thief uses information from your wallet and credit cards. You may get your wallet back, but the thief makes a lot more money by stealing your identity."

from Yahoo!

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stolen Wallet Can Lead to Stolen Identity

As the summer vacation season approaches, a former master forger -- and leading fraud prevention expert -- warns the theft of your wallet or purse may be the first step in the theft of your identity.

"Pickpockets used to get their money by using stolen credit cards right away before a theft could be reported," Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. warned. "But now, some of these thieves are using a stolen wallet or purse as the first step in stealing someone's identity.

"Here's how the scam works: After stealing your wallet, a thief goes to a pay phone and calls your home to report finding your wallet and offers to return it shortly thereafter. While you wait, the thief uses information from your wallet and credit cards. You may get your wallet back, but the thief makes a lot more money by stealing your identity."

from Yahoo!

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Single-use credit-card numbers help fight identity theft

NEW YORK - Cyberspace shopper Roger So relies on a 16-digit tool to prevent his personal information from being stolen: a single-use credit-card number.

When shopping online, the 52-year-old information-technology consultant periodically uses this randomly generated number - provided by his credit-card issuer, Citigroup Inc. - in place of his actual account information because, he said, it "gives me one more line of security."

"I use it primarily with merchants that I'm dealing with for the first time," said So, a resident of Morristown, N.J.

FULL STORY from Tucson Citizen [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Single-use credit-card numbers help fight identity theft

NEW YORK - Cyberspace shopper Roger So relies on a 16-digit tool to prevent his personal information from being stolen: a single-use credit-card number.

When shopping online, the 52-year-old information-technology consultant periodically uses this randomly generated number - provided by his credit-card issuer, Citigroup Inc. - in place of his actual account information because, he said, it "gives me one more line of security."

"I use it primarily with merchants that I'm dealing with for the first time," said So, a resident of Morristown, N.J.

from Tucson Citizen

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New wrinkle in ID theft

Struggling with declining health and relying on an oxygen tank to breathe, 81-year-old John Braithwaite of Salt Lake City would like nothing better than to spend his late retirement years relaxing with his wife.

Instead, Braithwaite is consumed by a need to restore his once-perfect credit record after becoming a victim of a new kind of identity theft.

Most people think of identity theft as a crime that occurs when a crook steals a person's entire identity -- their name and Social Security number -- to make fraudulent purchases.

But Braithwaite is among a growing number of victims whose good credit is hijacked by thieves who use their own names with other people's Social Security numbers.

from Salt Lake Tribune

Category: Consumer Tips, ID Theft News
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New wrinkle in ID theft

Struggling with declining health and relying on an oxygen tank to breathe, 81-year-old John Braithwaite of Salt Lake City would like nothing better than to spend his late retirement years relaxing with his wife.

Instead, Braithwaite is consumed by a need to restore his once-perfect credit record after becoming a victim of a new kind of identity theft.

Most people think of identity theft as a crime that occurs when a crook steals a person's entire identity -- their name and Social Security number -- to make fraudulent purchases.

But Braithwaite is among a growing number of victims whose good credit is hijacked by thieves who use their own names with other people's Social Security numbers.


from Salt Lake Tribune

Category: Consumer Tips, ID Theft News
Posted on June 16, 2004 at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Anti Fraud Website to Alert Consumers to Possible Insurance Scams

WASHINGTON, May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid growing concern that consumers could be duped by scam artists selling health insurance, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) announced the launch of a new public service announcement (PSA) television campaign and website designed to shine a spotlight on the problem of phony health insurance plans.

The ad, entitled "Empty," shows viewers the reality of a consumer having to find $15,000 to pay for hospital bills because the phone for the scam company's help line is sitting in an empty office because the company no longer exists. It directs viewers to www.avoidfraud.org, a website with basic tips that can help consumers avoid getting scammed, while also linking them to other relevant sources of information including the websites of their local state regulatory authorities like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Recently, in a study commissioned by the Senate Finance Committee, the General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that just in the past 3 years, more than 200,000 fake policies have been sold across the country leaving over $250 million in unpaid medical bills.

from Yahoo!

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 25, 2004 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Anti Fraud Website to Alert Consumers to Possible Insurance Scams

WASHINGTON, May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid growing concern that consumers could be duped by scam artists selling health insurance, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) announced the launch of a new public service announcement (PSA) television campaign and website designed to shine a spotlight on the problem of phony health insurance plans.

The ad, entitled "Empty," shows viewers the reality of a consumer having to find $15,000 to pay for hospital bills because the phone for the scam company's help line is sitting in an empty office because the company no longer exists. It directs viewers to www.avoidfraud.org, a website with basic tips that can help consumers avoid getting scammed, while also linking them to other relevant sources of information including the websites of their local state regulatory authorities like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Recently, in a study commissioned by the Senate Finance Committee, the General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that just in the past 3 years, more than 200,000 fake policies have been sold across the country leaving over $250 million in unpaid medical bills.

FULL STORY from Yahoo! [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 25, 2004 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Calif. Atty General warning on Medicare fraud

Attorney General Lockyer says California consumers should check the facts before buying prescription drug discount cards now authorized by Medicare to avoid paying for empty promises. The Attorney General also warned consumers to be alert for fraudulent solicitations that have appeared in other states.

Before buying a drug discount card, California consumers should find out if the card is approved by Medicare and will cover drugs actually being taken by the consumer. Consumers also will want to determine how much they would likely save since the card may not be right for all consumers - such as middle-income seniors in health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or low-income consumers in the Medi-Cal program who already receive drug price discounts.

Deceptive or unfair practices by discount drug card sellers should be reported to the Attorney General Office. Complaints can be filed using the on-line complaint form at ag.ca.gov/consumers or by writing to the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 19, 2004 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

FRAUD ALERT: Calif. Atty General warning on Medicare fraud

Attorney General Lockyer says California consumers should check the facts before buying prescription drug discount cards now authorized by Medicare to avoid paying for empty promises. The Attorney General also warned consumers to be alert for fraudulent solicitations that have appeared in other states.

Before buying a drug discount card, California consumers should find out if the card is approved by Medicare and will cover drugs actually being taken by the consumer. Consumers also will want to determine how much they would likely save since the card may not be right for all consumers - such as middle-income seniors in health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or low-income consumers in the Medi-Cal program who already receive drug price discounts.

Deceptive or unfair practices by discount drug card sellers should be reported to the Attorney General Office. Complaints can be filed using the on-line complaint form at http://ag.ca.gov/consumers or by writing to the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.

FULL STORY from the CA Atty General's alert page [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 19, 2004 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Increasing Number of Identity Theft Victims Find Culprit in Own Family

In the time it will take for you to read this report, 39 consumers will become victims of identity theft.

While most victims never know the crook, a study says 17 percent do - they're family members or relatives.

'Charlie' is just a teen, but he is already a victim of identity theft. He found the culprit - his mom.

from WAVY-TV

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on May 19, 2004 at 01:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Increasing Number of Identity Theft Victims Find Culprit in Own Family

In the time it will take for you to read this report, 39 consumers will become victims of identity theft.
While most victims never know the crook, a study says 17 percent do - they're family members or relatives.

'Charlie' is just a teen, but he is already a victim of identity theft. He found the culprit - his mom.

FULL STORY from WAVY-TV [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on May 19, 2004 at 01:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Maine man's fight against identity theft a slow one [Portland,ME]

GARDINER — Steve Dunn spent more than a year trying to convince collection agencies that he didn't write or sign three checks bearing his name and address. "It was quite a surprise to get a bill in the mail saying, 'Your check was no good,' " Dunn said. "I had no account with that bank and no checks with that account number."

Dunn, a senior consumer specialist with the Public Utilities Commission, disputed the allegation immediately and enlisted the aid of the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation to help him file a formal complaint of identity theft, fraud and forgery.

from Press Herald

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on May 12, 2004 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Maine man's fight against identity theft a slow one [Portland,ME]

GARDINER — Steve Dunn spent more than a year trying to convince collection agencies that he didn't write or sign three checks bearing his name and address. "It was quite a surprise to get a bill in the mail saying, 'Your check was no good,' " Dunn said. "I had no account with that bank and no checks with that account number."

Dunn, a senior consumer specialist with the Public Utilities Commission, disputed the allegation immediately and enlisted the aid of the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation to help him file a formal complaint of identity theft, fraud and forgery.

FULL STORY from Press Herald [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on May 12, 2004 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"419", "Advance Fee Fraud" and "Nigerian Schemes"

"419" fraud has been around since at least the early 1980's, usually run under the noses of or with the complicity of Nigerian governments. It is also called "Advance Fee Fraud," the "Nigerian Connection," "Nigerian Letter" scams or just "Nigerian Fraud". The name 419 comes from the relevant section of the Nigerian criminal code. There has been a huge increase in the number of fraud attempts recently, partly because of the use of spam email. The annual losses from these schemes are into the hundreds of millions each year. Overall, billions of dollars have been taken from businesses and consumers. And at least one victim was murdered.

This is how 419 schemes typically work:

* An individual or company receives an email, letter, or fax from an alleged "official" representing a foreign government or agency (or via an Internet chat room);
* An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars into your personal or business bank account;
* You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction;
* You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers, etc.;
* You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal;
* Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes;
* The correspondance stresses the confidential nature of the transaction;
* In almost every case you are told the situation is urgent;
* Sometimes the criminals say they are acting on behalf of a charity;

The fraudulent business proposals presented are usually one of these:

* Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
* Disbursement of money from wills
* Contract fraud (C.O.D. of goods or services)
* Purchase of real estate
* Conversion of hard currency
* Sale of crude oil at below market prices
* Reshipment of merchandise (stolen goods)

If you feel you have been a victim of any of these schemes contact your local field office of the U.S. Secret Service for help.

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 8, 2004 at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"419", "Advance Fee Fraud" and "Nigerian Schemes"

"419" fraud has been around since at least the early 1980's, usually run under the noses of or with the complicity of Nigerian governments. It is also called "Advance Fee Fraud," the "Nigerian Connection," "Nigerian Letter" scams or just "Nigerian Fraud". The name 419 comes from the relevant section of the Nigerian criminal code. There has been a huge increase in the number of fraud attempts recently, partly because of the use of spam email. The annual losses from these schemes are into the hundreds of millions each year. Overall, billions of dollars have been taken from businesses and consumers. And at least one victim was murdered.

This is how 419 schemes typically work:

* An individual or company receives an email, letter, or fax from an alleged "official" representing a foreign government or agency (or via an Internet chat room);
* An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars into your personal or business bank account;
* You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction;
* You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers, etc.;
* You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal;
* Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes;
* The correspondance stresses the confidential nature of the transaction;
* In almost every case you are told the situation is urgent;
* Sometimes the criminals say they are acting on behalf of a charity;

The fraudulent business proposals presented are usually one of these:

* Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
* Disbursement of money from wills
* Contract fraud (C.O.D. of goods or services)
* Purchase of real estate
* Conversion of hard currency
* Sale of crude oil at below market prices
* Reshipment of merchandise (stolen goods)

If you feel you have been a victim of any of these schemes contact your local field office of the U.S. Secret Service for help.

For more information, see this 419 alert from the U.S. Secret Service.

Source: U.S. Secret Service web site

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 8, 2004 at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to Avoid Drug Discount Card Scams

As the Medicare-approved discount card programs began marketing to beneficiaries on May 3rd, AARP warns consumers to guard themselves against the potential of fraud.

If you choose to enroll in a Medicare-approved discount card, first verify the company with Medicare before you sign up. You can do this by going to www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Here are some important things to remember:

-- No one is allowed to sell Medicare-approved drug discount cards by phone or door-to-door.
-- You cannot sign up for a card by phone or on-line.
-- No legitimate company selling the discount card will ever ask you to give your Social Security number, Medicare number, credit card number, or bank account information.
-- You can only sign up by calling a Medicare-approved provider of the drug discount card. They will just ask you for your name and address so that they can send you an application (where you will need to provide your Social Security and Medicare number before sending it back). They will not ask you to provide other information by phone.

There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself against these scams:

-- Never give out or confirm personal information to anyone who calls or e-mails you. Con artists may pose as a company you do business with, as a government official, or someone else in authority. They will ask you for information - in fact, this is how identity theft often happens. Remember: no legitimate company will ever contact you and ask for your Social Security or Medicare number, or your credit card of bank account information.
-- Don't forget the power you have to simply hang up the phone when a stranger calls trying to sell you something you don't want.
-- For your own safety, don't allow anyone you don't know into your home. It's OK to tell someone they cannot come in. It's easier to close the door on them before they get in than to get them out once they're inside.
-- If you choose a Medicare-approved discount card to enroll in, check the company out with Medicare before you sign up. You can do this by going to www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Once in the "Medicare Improvements" section, press "0" to reach an operator.
-- If you signed up for any card claiming to be a Medicare-approved drug discount card before May 3, chances are that it's fraudulent. Report it immediately.
-- If you suspect that a con artist has approached you, report it! Call your state Attorney General or local police

Report fraudulent Medicare drug cards

-- Call the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. By phone: 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), By E-Mail: HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov, By TTY: 1-800-377-4950.
-- Contact your State Attorney General.

AARP has a website (www.aarp.org) and a phone number (1-888-OUR-AARP) to give you information to help you understand your Medicare and prescription drug choices. A booklet that explains the changes in Medicare, titled "Medicare Changes That Could Affect You," is also available by calling 1-888-OUR-AARP.

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 7, 2004 at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

AARP Warns Consumers to Avoid Drug Discount Card Scams

This post is much longer than usual folks, because the information is so important for protecting seniors from fraud. --ScamSafe Editor.

As the Medicare-approved discount card programs began marketing to beneficiaries on May 3rd, AARP warns consumers to guard themselves against the potential of fraud.

If you choose to enroll in a Medicare-approved discount card, first verify the company with Medicare before you sign up. You can do this by going to www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Here are some important things to remember:

-- No one is allowed to sell Medicare-approved drug discount cards by phone or door-to-door.
-- You cannot sign up for a card by phone or on-line.
-- No legitimate company selling the discount card will ever ask you to give your Social Security number, Medicare number, credit card number, or bank account information.
-- You can only sign up by calling a Medicare-approved provider of the drug discount card. They will just ask you for your name and address so that they can send you an application (where you will need to provide your Social Security and Medicare number before sending it back). They will not ask you to provide other information by phone.

There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself against these scams:

-- Never give out or confirm personal information to anyone who calls or e-mails you. Con artists may pose as a company you do business with, as a government official, or someone else in authority. They will ask you for information - in fact, this is how identity theft often happens. Remember: no legitimate company will ever contact you and ask for your Social Security or Medicare number, or your credit card of bank account information.
-- Don't forget the power you have to simply hang up the phone when a stranger calls trying to sell you something you don't want.
-- For your own safety, don't allow anyone you don't know into your home. It's OK to tell someone they cannot come in. It's easier to close the door on them before they get in than to get them out once they're inside.
-- If you choose a Medicare-approved discount card to enroll in, check the company out with Medicare before you sign up. You can do this by going to www.medicare.gov, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Once in the "Medicare Improvements" section, press "0" to reach an operator.
-- If you signed up for any card claiming to be a Medicare-approved drug discount card before May 3, chances are that it's fraudulent. Report it immediately.
-- If you suspect that a con artist has approached you, report it! Call your state Attorney General or local police

Report fraudulent Medicare drug cards

-- Call the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. By phone: 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), By E-Mail: HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov, By TTY: 1-800-377-4950.
-- Contact your State Attorney General.

AARP has a website (www.aarp.org) and a phone number (1-888-OUR-AARP) to give you information to help you understand your Medicare and prescription drug choices. A booklet that explains the changes in Medicare, titled "Medicare Changes That Could Affect You," is also available by calling 1-888-OUR-AARP.

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on May 7, 2004 at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Calif. Seniors Against Investment Fraud Program to Give Presentations

California Department of Corporations Celebrates ''Older Americans Month''

May 2004 Designated as Older Americans Month; Department's Seniors Against Investment Fraud Program (SAIF) is Critical Resource to Older Americans as They Live Longer, More Active Lives

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 30, 2004-- In celebration of Older Americans Month in California, the Department of Corporations' Seniors Against Investment Fraud (SAIF) program announced today that it will give at least 30 presentations statewide throughout the month of May to help educate older Californians about how to identify and avoid fraud schemes that are often targeted at them. It is estimated that between 75 and 100 seniors will attend each SAIF presentation.

Established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 1963, Older Americans Month aims to recognize and celebrate older Americans who are living longer, healthier and more productive lives. This year's theme is "Aging Well, Living Well." President Bush is also expected to proclaim May as Older Americans Month nationwide.

"During Older Americans Month, we celebrate with Californians who are living longer, more active lives," said Corporations Commissioner William P. Wood. "Californians want and deserve financial security after retirement. Unfortunately, older populations have increasingly become targets for investment fraud. The SAIF program can help protect seniors against devious fraud schemes. I strongly urge all older Californians to learn all they can about SAIF and follow the guidelines before making a financial investment."

A list of scheduled SAIF presentations for the month of May, "Older Americans Month," is attached. Please contact SAIF at 916-445-1349 to confirm dates and locations.

from Yahoo

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on May 1, 2004 at 11:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Calif. Seniors Against Investment Fraud Program to Give Presentations

California Department of Corporations Celebrates ''Older Americans Month''

May 2004 Designated as Older Americans Month; Department's Seniors Against Investment Fraud Program (SAIF) is Critical Resource to Older Americans as They Live Longer, More Active Lives

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 30, 2004-- In celebration of Older Americans Month in California, the Department of Corporations' Seniors Against Investment Fraud (SAIF) program announced today that it will give at least 30 presentations statewide throughout the month of May to help educate older Californians about how to identify and avoid fraud schemes that are often targeted at them. It is estimated that between 75 and 100 seniors will attend each SAIF presentation.

Established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 1963, Older Americans Month aims to recognize and celebrate older Americans who are living longer, healthier and more productive lives. This year's theme is "Aging Well, Living Well." President Bush is also expected to proclaim May as Older Americans Month nationwide.

"During Older Americans Month, we celebrate with Californians who are living longer, more active lives," said Corporations Commissioner William P. Wood. "Californians want and deserve financial security after retirement. Unfortunately, older populations have increasingly become targets for investment fraud. The SAIF program can help protect seniors against devious fraud schemes. I strongly urge all older Californians to learn all they can about SAIF and follow the guidelines before making a financial investment."

A list of scheduled SAIF presentations for the month of May, "Older Americans Month," is attached. Please contact SAIF at 916-445-1349 to confirm dates and locations.

FULL STORY from Yahoo! [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on May 1, 2004 at 11:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to avoid or deal with a house moving scam

Moving scams help:

+ Contact MoveRescue, a moving industry resource for consumers affected by moving scams, go to www.moverescue.com or call (800) 832-1773.

+ The American Moving and Storage Association provides consumers with moving tips and a mover referral service. For information, go to www.moving.org or call (703) 683-7410.

+ MovingScam.com, a free help Web site, is at www.movingscam.com.

+ The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides moving information at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/factsfigs/moving.htm. Consumers may file complaints by calling FMCSA's 24-hour toll-free hotline at (888) 368-7238 or online at www.1-888-dot-saft.com.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 28, 2004 at 10:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

How to avoid or deal with a moving scam

+ Contact MoveRescue, a moving industry resource for consumers affected by moving scams, go to www.moverescue.com or call (800) 832-1773.

+ The American Moving and Storage Association provides consumers with moving tips and a mover referral service. For information, go to www.moving.org or call (703) 683-7410.

+ MovingScam.com, a free help Web site, is at www.movingscam.com.

+ The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides moving information at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/factsfigs/moving.htm. Consumers may file complaints by calling FMCSA's 24-hour toll-free hotline at (888) 368-7238 or online at www.1-888-dot-saft.com.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 28, 2004 at 10:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Program comes to rescue of moving scam victims

With 4,000 to 5,000 mover-fraud complaints filed each year at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — a small percentage of the “rogue mover” scams perpetrated against consumers — the moving industry last month launched a new program, MoveRescue.

The program helps consumers find reputable movers and provides advice and legal assistance to victims of fraud.

“We felt it was time that someone reached out to deal with this problem,” says MoveRescue director Carl Walter.

When a consumer contacts MoveRescue, its representatives assess the problem and recommend steps to take.

from Detriot News

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 28, 2004 at 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Program comes to rescue of moving scam victims

With 4,000 to 5,000 mover-fraud complaints filed each year at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — a small percentage of the “rogue mover” scams perpetrated against consumers — the moving industry last month launched a new program, MoveRescue.

The program helps consumers find reputable movers and provides advice and legal assistance to victims of fraud.

“We felt it was time that someone reached out to deal with this problem,” says MoveRescue director Carl Walter.

When a consumer contacts MoveRescue, its representatives assess the problem and recommend steps to take.

FULL STORY from Detriot News [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 28, 2004 at 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

This act says that financial institutions must develop and give notice of their privacy policies to their own customers at least annually, and before disclosing any consumer's personal financial information to a nonaffiliated third party, must give notice and an opportunity for that consumer to "opt out" from such disclosure.

Title V, subtitle A, of this Act, Pub. L. No. 106-102, §§ 501-510, 113 Stat. 1338, 1436-45 (Nov. 12, 1999) requires the FTC, along with the Federal banking agencies, the National Credit Union Administration, the Treasury Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to issue regulations (to be codified at 16 CFR Part 313) ensuring that financial institutions protect the privacy of consumers' personal financial information.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

This act says that financial institutions must develop and give notice of their privacy policies to their own customers at least annually, and before disclosing any consumer's personal financial information to a nonaffiliated third party, must give notice and an opportunity for that consumer to "opt out" from such disclosure.

Title V, subtitle A, of this Act, Pub. L. No. 106-102, §§ 501-510, 113 Stat. 1338, 1436-45 (Nov. 12, 1999) requires the FTC, along with the Federal banking agencies, the National Credit Union Administration, the Treasury Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to issue regulations (to be codified at 16 CFR Part 313) ensuring that financial institutions protect the privacy of consumers' personal financial information.

See the text of the act here.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Are there state laws on identity theft?

As of April 2004, all but two states have passed laws directly outlawing identity theft. Where specific identity theft laws do not exist, the practices may be prohibited under other laws. See the summary of state laws on the FTC web site.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Are there state laws on identity theft?

As of April 2004, all but two states have passed laws directly outlawing identity theft. Where specific identity theft laws do not exist, the practices may be prohibited under other laws. See the summary of state laws on the FTC web site.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fair Credit Billing Act

The Fair Credit Billing Act establishes procedures for resolving billing errors on your credit card accounts. It also limits a consumer's liability for fraudulent credit card charges.

For more details, see this info on FTC web site.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fair Credit Billing Act

The Fair Credit Billing Act establishes procedures for resolving billing errors on your credit card accounts. It also limits a consumer's liability for fraudulent credit card charges.

For more details, see this info on FTC web site.

The text of the law can be found here.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on your credit record and requires that your record only be provided for legitimate business needs.

For more details, see this info on FTC web site.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on your credit record and requires that your record only be provided for legitimate business needs.

For more details, see this info on FTC web site.

The text of the law can be found here

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 06:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is "pretexting"? How is it related to identity theft?

Pretexting is the practice of getting your personal information under false pretenses--it is illegal. Pretexters sell your information to people who may use it to get credit in your name, steal your assets, or to investigate or sue you.

Pretexters use a variety of tactics to get your personal information. For example, a pretexter may call, claim he's from a survey firm, and ask you a few questions. When the pretexter has the information he wants, he uses it to call your financial institution. He pretends to be you or someone with authorized access to your account. He might claim that he's forgotten his checkbook and needs information about his account. In this way, the pretexter may be able to obtain personal information about you such as your SSN, bank and credit card account numbers, information in your credit report, and the existence and size of your savings and investment portfolios.

Keep in mind that some information about you may be a matter of public record, such as whether you own a home, pay your real estate taxes, or have ever filed for bankruptcy. It is not pretexting for another person to collect this kind of information.

By law, it's illegal for anyone to:

+ Use false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.

+ Use forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.

+ Ask another person to get someone else's customer information using false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or using false, fictitious or fraudulent documents or forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents.

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 05:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is "pretexting"? How is it related to identity theft?

Pretexting is the practice of getting your personal information under false pretenses--it is illegal. Pretexters sell your information to people who may use it to get credit in your name, steal your assets, or to investigate or sue you.

Pretexters use a variety of tactics to get your personal information. For example, a pretexter may call, claim he's from a survey firm, and ask you a few questions. When the pretexter has the information he wants, he uses it to call your financial institution. He pretends to be you or someone with authorized access to your account. He might claim that he's forgotten his checkbook and needs information about his account. In this way, the pretexter may be able to obtain personal information about you such as your SSN, bank and credit card account numbers, information in your credit report, and the existence and size of your savings and investment portfolios.

Keep in mind that some information about you may be a matter of public record, such as whether you own a home, pay your real estate taxes, or have ever filed for bankruptcy. It is not pretexting for another person to collect this kind of information.

By law, it's illegal for anyone to:

+ Use false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.

+ Use forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.

+ Ask another person to get someone else's customer information using false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or using false, fictitious or fraudulent documents or forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents.

Source: FTC

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 22, 2004 at 05:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Increase in Fraudulent Healthcare Scams Puts Medicare Beneficiaries on Alert

Simple Tips Help Seniors and Others Avoid Becoming Victims

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., April 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Enrollment for Medicare prescription drug discount cards is just around the corner, and soon millions of Medicare beneficiaries will be sifting through tons of information from the 28 discount card sponsors that are approved by Medicare. Unfortunately, with so many cards and so much information, Medicare beneficiaries may find themselves unknowingly and unwillingly at risk for Medicare fraud activity.

"Older people have caught the attention of professional con-artists who fleece the elderly for a living. Those who are armed with the right information about the new Medicare discount card program can avoid being taken for a ride by unscrupulous individuals looking to prey on those who can least afford it," said Tom Cassidy, a former senior investigator for the New York State Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the author of "Elder Care/What To Look For/What To Look Out For!"

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on April 20, 2004 at 08:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Increase in Fraudulent Healthcare Scams Puts Medicare Beneficiaries on Alert

Simple Tips Help Seniors and Others Avoid Becoming Victims

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., April 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Enrollment for Medicare prescription drug discount cards is just around the corner, and soon millions of Medicare beneficiaries will be sifting through tons of information from the 28 discount card sponsors that are approved by Medicare. Unfortunately, with so many cards and so much information, Medicare beneficiaries may find themselves unknowingly and unwillingly at risk for Medicare fraud activity.

"Older people have caught the attention of professional con-artists who fleece the elderly for a living. Those who are armed with the right information about the new Medicare discount card program can avoid being taken for a ride by unscrupulous individuals looking to prey on those who can least afford it," said Tom Cassidy, a former senior investigator for the New York State Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the author of "Elder Care/What To Look For/What To Look Out For!"

FULL STORY from PR Newswire [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on April 20, 2004 at 08:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Consumer Fraud: ATM and Credit Card Fraud

ATM and credit card fraud involves the unlawful use of ATM and credit card numbers by an unauthorized person. The thief may access your card information by:

+ Finding carbon copies of receipts (or clerks keeping the carbon copy)
+ Store or restaurant clerks may record your credit card info by using a special swiping device (this is called "skimming")
+ Going through trash and finding discarded receipts (also called "dumpster diving")
+ Stealing your PIN as you type it in at an ATM (sometimes called "shoulder surfing")

If you lose your ATM or credit card, call the bank that issued it immediately. You have no further responsibility by law once you’ve reported it lost or stolen. Under federal law, you are only obligated to pay a maximum of $50 if you have reported it lost or stolen. Make sure you follow up with a letter sent certified mail and save the receipt. Keep copies of all correspondence.

How can you protect yourself?

1. Push up close to the ATM to block the keypad.
2. Never tell anyone your PIN number
3. Never write your PIN on your card or leave the PIN in your wallet.
4. Don’t put your PIN number in until it says to.
5. Make sure you receive your card back when finished with transaction.
6. Never let anyone else use your cards.
7. Keep any carbon copies the clerk creates, or tear them up before they are thrown away.
8. Check your monthly statements--look for transactions you didn't make.
9. Write “please see ID” along with your signature on the back of your card.

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on April 18, 2004 at 09:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Understanding ATM and Debit Card Fraud

ATM and debit card fraud involves the unlawful use of ATM and debit card numbers by an unauthorized person. The thief may access your card information by:

+ Finding carbon copies of receipts (or clerks keeping the carbon copy)
+ Store or restaurant clerks may record your credit card info by using a special swiping device (this is called "skimming")
+ Going through trash and finding discarded receipts (also called "dumpster diving")
+ Stealing your PIN as you type it in at an ATM (sometimes called "shoulder surfing")

If you lose your ATM or debit card, call the bank that issued it immediately. You have no further responsibility by law once you’ve reported it lost or stolen. Under federal law, you are only obligated to pay a maximum of $50 if you have reported it lost or stolen. Make sure you follow up with a letter sent certified mail and save the receipt. Keep copies of all correspondence.

How can you protect yourself?

1. Push up close to the ATM to block the keypad.
2. Never tell anyone your PIN number
3. Never write your PIN on your card or leave the PIN in your wallet.
4. Don’t put your PIN number in until it says to.
5. Make sure you receive your card back when finished with transaction.
6. Never let anyone else use your cards.
7. Keep any carbon copies the clerk creates, or tear them up before they are thrown away.
8. Check your monthly statements--look for transactions you didn't make.
9. Write “please see ID” along with your signature on the back of your card.

Category: Consumer Tips, FRAUD ALERTS
Posted on April 18, 2004 at 09:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Banks combat identity theft

MORE HELP is on the way for victims of identity theft, one of the nation's fastest growing crimes.

Two big banks -- Citigroup and Washington Mutual -- have started free programs to assist customers whose names or accounts are compromised by thieves. And in June, a national organization representing some of the largest banks, brokerages and finance companies will launch an Identity Theft Assistance Center to help victims clear their names.

"ID theft has reached epidemic levels in the United States, and our customers are having real problems," said Steve Bartlett, president and chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, the Washington, D.C., organization behind the center. "We're going to try to help them."

FULL STORY from San Mateo County Times [pop up]

Category: Consumer Tips, Identity Theft News
Posted on April 18, 2004 at 07:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Banks combat identity theft

MORE HELP is on the way for victims of identity theft, one of the nation's fastest growing crimes.

Two big banks -- Citigroup and Washington Mutual -- have started free programs to assist customers whose names or accounts are compromised by thieves. And in June, a national organization representing some of the largest banks, brokerages and finance companies will launch an Identity Theft Assistance Center to help victims clear their names.

"ID theft has reached epidemic levels in the United States, and our customers are having real problems," said Steve Bartlett, president and chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, the Washington, D.C., organization behind the center. "We're going to try to help them."

from San Mateo County Times

Category: Consumer Tips, Identity Theft News
Posted on April 18, 2004 at 07:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Federal Identity Theft Law

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Title 18 United States Code - Section 1028)

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 became effective October 30, 1998. It makes identity theft a Federal crime with penalties up to 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. It establishes that the person whose identity was stolen is a true victim. This legislation enables the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies to combat this crime. It allows for the identity theft victim to seek restitution if there is a conviction. It also establishes the Federal Trade Commission as a central agency to act as a clearinghouse for complaints, (against credit reporting agencies and credit grantors) referrals, and resources for assistance for victims of identity theft. This statute may serve as a model for your state to enact similar legislation. It should also provide you leverage to influence law enforcement to investigate your case.

See a copy of the law on the FTC web site

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 17, 2004 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Federal Identity Theft Law

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Title 18 United States Code - Section 1028)

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 became effective October 30, 1998. It makes identity theft a Federal crime with penalties up to 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. It establishes that the person whose identity was stolen is a true victim. This legislation enables the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies to combat this crime. It allows for the identity theft victim to seek restitution if there is a conviction. It also establishes the Federal Trade Commission as a central agency to act as a clearinghouse for complaints, (against credit reporting agencies and credit grantors) referrals, and resources for assistance for victims of identity theft. This statute may serve as a model for your state to enact similar legislation. It should also provide you leverage to influence law enforcement to investigate your case.

See a copy of the law on the FTC web site

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 17, 2004 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How do I report stolen or lost checks?

When a consumer has lost or stolen checks, check services companies can help. They help you to protect your good name while also protecting those checks from being used at thousands of financial institutions and businesses.

Here's how it works. When a consumer has lost or stolen checks, you may report this information to a check service such as TeleCheck. TeleCheck enters this information into the company's extensive database. This helps prevent the checks from being used at any TeleCheck financial institution or business which protects the consumer and local businesses. This results in financial institutions not having to process, return or handle large numbers of forgery affidavits. Consumers who call TeleCheck directly are reminded to immediately report the lost or stolen checks to their financial institution and to their local police department.

The TeleCheck toll-free hotline for reporting lost and stolen checks is 1-800-366-2425.

Businesses can contact the National Check Fraud Hotline: (843) 571-2143.

Other check services companies include:

CheckRite (800) 766-2748
ChexSystems (800) 428-9623
CrossCheck (800) 552-1900
SCAN (800) 262-7771
Equifax Check Systems (800) 437-5120
International Check Services (800) 526-5380

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 16, 2004 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

How do I report stolen/lost checks?

When a consumer has lost or stolen checks, check services companies can help. They help you to protect your good name while also protecting those checks from being used at thousands of financial institutions and businesses.

Here's how it works. When a consumer has lost or stolen checks, you may report this information to a check service such as TeleCheck. They enter this information into the company's extensive database. This helps prevent the checks from being used at any TeleCheck financial institution or business which protects the consumer and local businesses. This results in financial institutions not having to process, return or handle large numbers of forgery affidavits. Consumers who call TeleCheck directly are reminded to immediately report the lost or stolen checks to their financial institution and to their local police department.

The TeleCheck toll-free hotline for reporting lost and stolen checks is 1-800-366-2425.

Businesses can contact the National Check Fraud Hotline at (843) 571-2143.

Other check services companies include:

CheckRite (800) 766-2748
ChexSystems (800) 428-9623
CrossCheck (800) 552-1900
SCAN (800) 262-7771
Equifax Check Systems (800) 437-5120
International Check Services (800) 526-5380

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on April 16, 2004 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)