Saturday, April 30, 2016

Get Protected Today!! SSA Putting Millions of Americans at Risk for Identity Theft

The Social Security Administration puts millions of Americans at risk for identity theft by putting their full Social Security Numbers on letters sent in the mail.
The agency’s inspector general released an audit this week warning the government that by sending hundreds of millions of letters containing individual’s Social Security Numbers it puts them at risk for identity theft.
“According to [the Social Security Administration] SSA, in 2015, it mailed about 233 million notices that included individuals’ full SSN,” the inspector general said. “We recognize SSA’s efforts can never eliminate the potential that dishonest individuals may inappropriately acquire and misuse SSNs. However, our audit and investigative work have shown that the more SSNs are unnecessarily used, the higher the probability that they could be used inappropriately.”
“The security of beneficiaries’ [Personally Identifiable Information] PII should be foremost, and as a Federal agency and public servant, we believe SSA should be in the forefront of establishing policy and practice by limiting SSN use and disclosure,” the audit said.
Sixty-six percent of the 352 million notices the agency sent out last year contained Americans’ full Social Security Numbers, and the government said it has no idea how many never made it to the correct address.
“While it is unknown how many of the intended addressees received these notices, our audit work has shown that the addresses in SSA’s records can be inaccurate,” the inspector general said.
“We asked SSA whether it maintained any estimates on the number of mailings that were returned as undeliverable. SSA stated that it did not have any Agency-level number on undeliverable mail,” they said. “SSA could not provide us an estimate of the number of notices with SSNs it mails annually that do not reach the intended recipients and are not returned to SSA.”
The inspector general warned that notices sent to the wrong address can increase identify theft, as it can give strangers access to vital personal information. “Notices intercepted by unintended recipients could provide SSA beneficiaries’ names, addresses, and SSNs to individuals other than the number holders,” they said.
Auditors said they do not currently have documented proof of identity theft that has occurred as a result of agency letters going to the wrong address, though the agency acknowledged “there is a risk of identity theft anytime it sends correspondence that contains PII.”
The inspector general said identity theft is “one of the fastest-growing crimes” in the country.”
“With a stolen SSN, identity thieves can commit any number of financial crimes in the victim’s name or steal money from the victim,” the audit said. “If the victim is a senior citizen, the thief could even target their Social Security benefits.”
“SSA acknowledges that identity thieves may obtain another’s personal information by stealing their mail or rummaging through their trash,” the inspector general concluded. “It is, therefore, troubling that SSA continues including the full SSN on the majority of its mailings.”
BY:  - The Washington Free Beacon

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Getting Things In Order...

We assume successful folks have everything in order. Not necessarily! Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Sonny Bono, Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson, Howard Hughes, John Denver, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Amy Winehouse, Barry White, Heath Ledger, Princess Diana, Tupac Shakur, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Abraham Lincoln, James Brown, Billie Holiday, Paul Shane, and apparently now, Prince... all died without having a legally binding, updated Last Will and Testament. frown emoticon
PROCRASTINATION or denial could be to blame for those who didn't have to worry about making a financial decision. For 70% of Americans who don't have a current and updated Will today, procrastination and FINANCES are typically to blame... since a complete Will package prepared by a law firm can run $1300 per person.
What if you didn't have to make a financial decision OR figure it all out on your own? Would you go ahead and PREPARE the most important Love Letter you'll ever leave to your family? Probably.
Will preparation is just ONE of the many benefits LegalShield provides its members as part of the service for under $20/month.
Wishing peace for Prince's family...




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Miami Couple Charged With $2 Million Identity Theft Fraud, Authorities Say...



A Miami couple has been charged in a $2 million credit card fraud and identity theft scheme -- mainly targeting seniors -- which they allegedly used to go on designer shopping sprees and luxury vacations, the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced Tuesday.
Patricia Perez-Gonzalez, 26, and Alberto Companioni, 31, were indicted in Manhattan Supreme Court on March 18 and were each charged with felony second, third and fourth-degree grand larceny, felony first- and second-degree identity Theft, and Petit Larceny, a misdemeanor, according to the indictment.
“While the victims were rebuilding their credit and their financial lives, our defendants were traveling around the entire country living it up, living large in resorts and high end restaurants, purchasing high end merchandise,” said Steven Schrank, deputy special agent-in-charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the couple "spared no expense while enjoying the use" of the credit cards, which were opened in victims' names and inflicted damage on their credit.
“The scope of the alleged fraud required the defendants and their co-conspirators to construct a network using stolen information to circumvent typical safeguards intended to prevent fraud, such as chip-enabled credit cards,” Vance said.
More than 40 victims across the U.S. were affected in the luxury identity theft ring, said Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York.
Between December 2014 and January 2016, Companioni and Perez-Gonzalez allegedly used American Express credit cards with chip technology. The accounts were opened using stolen personal information, primarily from senior citizens, and the couple spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on vacations, designer merchandise, luxury vehicles and other expenses, according to the DA's office.
Once the accounts were opened, the American Express cards were shipped to various locations across the U.S., often vacant homes and properties, and intercepted by Companioni and Perez-Gonzalez, along with co-conspirators, according to the DA.
"This method of fraud allowed the defendants to run up significant lines of credit with no intention of paying off the charges, and in many cases, victims were unaware that there were large amounts of outstanding debt linked to their names and accounts," the press release said.
Schrank described the couple as part of an "organized crew that knew that they were doing and took many steps to evade law enforcement scrutiny and scrutiny from the financial industry."
Credit card fraud has been a growing problem for years, said Schrank.
“We do increasingly find that through the use of the internet and cyber-crime, it is growing increasingly complex in recent years,” he said.
The couple allegedly used the cards to pay for trips to New York, California, Hawaii and other destinations, where they made additional charges for expensive meals, outings at popular clubs, and shopping sprees at Herm├Ęs, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and other designer stores, according to the District Attorney's office. The cards were also used to purchase high-end electronics, mostly from Apple stores to resell to buyers overseas.
In addition, Perez-Gonzalez allegedly used the cards to purchase wholesale merchandise that she resold on her retail clothing website "Le Fashion Wheels."
When searches were done at multiple Miami addresses associated with the couple, investigators found "dozens of credit cards in victims' names ... forged identification and licenses, a credit card encoder, blank credit cards, more than ten phones labeled in victims' names and merchandise purchased with the fraudulent American Express cards, including a Rolex watch, racing bikes, ski gear, Chanel bags and other designer clothing and accessories," according to the press release.
Companioni pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held on Rikers Island, NY on $500,000 bond, according to court records. His lawyer, Steven Fusfeld, is not offering a comment on his behalf at this time.
Perez-Gonzalez also pleaded not guilty and is being held on Rikers Island on $500,000 bond, court records indicate. Her court-appointed lawyer, Greg Gomez, told ABC News the family has hired alternative counsel. It is unclear who will be representing Perez-Gonzalez going forward.
Click on the link below for the full story from ABC News.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/miami-couple-charged-million-identity-theft-fraud-authorities/story?id=3822248
This can happen to you and your family!! The victims were already rebuilding their credit and financial lives..

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