February 28, 2014
AS MUCH AS you may loathe tax season, there are people who rejoice during this time of year. They see it as prime time for picking people to victimize. Unscrupulous folks know that taxpayers are eager for ways to get a large refund. They love the complexity of the tax code, which gives them the opportunity to trick people into letting their guard down. Every year, the Internal Revenue Service highlights the low-down and dirty by putting out its list of top 12 tax scams. "Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said.
February 26, 2014 |
AMAN WHO police say posed as District Attorney Seth Williams has been charged with a litany of crimes after allegedly scamming an elderly man out of tens of thousands of dollars, pretending to be the city's top prosecutor. The alleged scammer happens to be old pals with Williams and reportedly used that connection to gain the victim's trust. Shelton Thomas, 47, is charged with robbery, burglary, theft, extortion, criminal trespass, identity theft and impersonating a public servant.
February 26, 2014 |
A Cobbs Creek man faces a slew of felony charges after, District Attorney Seth Williams said, he swindled a 93-year-old man out of at least $95,000 over three years by impersonating Williams. For several years, Raymond Campbell, a retired federal government worker and a World War II veteran, had hired Shelton Thomas, 47, to cut his grass, Williams said. In June 2011, Thomas told Campbell he had been arrested for dumping grass cuttings in an "unauthorized dumpster" and said Campbell had to pay his court costs and fees, Williams said.
February 20, 2014 |
MOUNT HOLLY Temeshia McDonald of Mount Holly lived well, with a high-end wardrobe, a 2012 Cadillac, and cosmetic surgery, according to court records. Among the 29-year-old's indulgences were sprees at Victoria's Secret, where she reportedly spent $355,545, federal authorities said, including $63,000 in merchandise and gift cards in just two months in 2012. On Tuesday, McDonald appeared in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., where she was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $557,690 in restitution after pleading guilty to fraud.
February 13, 2014 |
As an IRS contact representative, Sherelle Pratt was tasked with tackling confused tax filers' most complicated questions. Instead, authorities said Tuesday, she left them with a more burning concern: What happened to their tax returns? A federal grand jury indicted Pratt, 49, of Philadelphia, on charges of theft, identity theft, and filing false returns - all stemming from an alleged scheme in which she pocketed nearly $29,000 in tax-refund money meant for nine of her clients. Investigators with the Treasury Department and the IRS began probing Pratt's work in 2009, after the father of one client questioned what happened to a $958 tax return and $600 stimulus check he believed his son was owed.
February 10, 2014 |
This new year, many women decided to reinvent themselves - as me. I was the victim of "high-level identity theft. " I came home from the holidays to find 12 new credit cards opened in my name, none by me. Somebody had gotten my Social Security number, birth date, and address. I freaked. I called my mom, and she freaked. Then I looked online and learned I could resolve the fraud in, oh, about 100 easy steps. The first was to file a police report. Simply being inside the police precinct made me feel guilty.
January 27, 2014 |
The data heists from Target and Neiman Marcus continue to focus attention on the problem of information and identity theft. If you're a victim, or just don't want to be one, see these sites. Immediate steps to take when your identity is stolen include placing an initial fraud alert with one of the three big credit-reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission's page on how to handle ID theft tells how. The alert entitles you to free credit reports from all three reporting companies, and you'll need them.
January 24, 2014
SINCE THE major data breach at Target, many readers have asked how to best protect their credit. "My wife and I are vigilant and we replaced our debit cards because of Target," one reader wrote. "Our credit has been 'frozen' at the three credit agencies for years and we view the reports annually. Do you consider 'frozen' at the agencies as ample protection?" It's likely you've heard that if you're a victim of identity theft or you want to protect your files from fraud because you suspect you are vulnerable, you should put a fraud alert on your credit files at the major credit-reporting agencies - TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.
January 20, 2014 |
Could the uproar over Target's vast data breach finally force Americans to get serious about consumers' security? Most of the rest of the world - including Canada and Europe - now uses payment cards embedded with microchips, making them far harder to clone. Almost everywhere, payment cards also are secured by customers' secret PIN codes. Meanwhile, America clings to outmoded magnetic-stripe technology, which makes card cloning much easier for the bad guys. And we blithely issue debit cards - yes, cards that take money from your very own bank account - that are usable with just a signature, no PIN required.
January 17, 2014
WE HAVE TO face the truth: We've lost the battle to protect our identities. Once the information from our credit and debit cards has been transmitted, it's out of our control. The latest high-profile data breaches confirm that we are forever vulnerable. In mid-December, Target said that criminals had forced their way into its computer system and gained access to customer credit- and debit-card information. Initially, Target said about 40 million shoppers were affected. Last week, the retailer disclosed that the personal data for an additional 70 million customers had also been stolen.