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Identity Theft in the News

Identity Theft is Always in the News – Here’s What’s Happening Right Now

As one of the most common crimes in America, identity theft is guaranteed to take the spotlight in the news more often than not.

In the past week alone, there have been several news articles reporting on identity theft cases throughout the country.

In Phoenix, Arizona, 92.3 KTAR-FM published a May 27 article reporting that police are on the hunt for a woman who obtained thousands of dollars by assuming the identity of another person. In total, the suspect stole $12,100 from the victim’s Wells Fargo Bank account on Feb. 19 and 20. One day later, the suspect opened a credit account in the victim’s name at Nordstrom’s, and charged more than $4,000 to the card.

In Colorado, BCDemocratOnline.com published an article titled, “Jury duty identity theft phone scam targets Colorado.” The May 28 article stated, “Due to the extreme penalties behind missing jury duty, scammers are preying on victims’ fear of legal action by pretending to be ‘jury duty coordinators’ questioning consumers about recent jury duty summons.” The scammer requested a Social Security number and date of birth, which allows them to commit identity theft and tax fraud. The article featured the following advice from Scambook.com to avoid falling for this particular phone scam:

1. Understand that jury duty is always arranged by mailed letters, not phone calls. If consumers are expecting a jury summons, they are advised to hang up on the caller and get information directly from their local courthouse’s or state attorney general’s website. Visiting http://www.uscourts.gov, consumers can learn about legitimate juror protocol or recent jury summons.

2. An official government representative will never be rude, bully people or make threats. Victims who are being harassed over the phone are advised to contact their local law enforcement to report the issue.

3. Never give private or personal information, such as Social Security number, over the phone. A real official or court representative will not call to request this information.

4. Never give money, either in the form of a credit card number or wire transfer, to an unsolicited caller. In other variations of this jury duty scam, the caller requests money to pay various fees.

5. If in doubt, get the caller’s information, do independent fact-checking and call back. Ask for the caller’s name, phone number or extension and their manager’s contact information. Then look them up on the Internet or by calling the local county courthouse. If the caller does turn out to be a real government representative, consumers can call them back.

For more information visit Scambook.com.

Across the country in Jackson, Tennessee, the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South warned of medical identity theft, as reported by the Jackson Sun on May 23. The article highlights a few cases of medical identity theft, including one case where a Colorado man received a hospital bill for a $44,000 surgery he never had. In another case a Pennsylvania man discovered that someone stole his identity and received $100,000 worth of medical treatment in his name.

Below is an excerpt from the article, titled “BBB warns of medical identity theft,” that gives tips on how to recognize is you have been the victim of medical identity theft:

The FTC says you may be a victim of medical identity theft if:

• You get a bill for medical services you didn’t receive.

• A debt collector contacts you about medical debt you don’t owe.

• You order a copy of your credit report and see medical collection notices you don’t recognize.

• You try to make a legitimate insurance claim and your health plan says you’ve reached your limit on benefits.

• You’re denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

Read any Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement or Medicare Summary Notice you get to be sure that the claims match care that you received. Obtain the free copy of your credit report that you’re entitled to annually to be sure the information is accurate. Look for medical collection items that may not be legitimate.

If you’ve been the victim of medical identity theft, ask for copies of your medical or insurance records from any health care provider or health plan that may be involved. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) governs your rights to this information and the provider’s obligations to respond to a request for it. You may have to complete a form and pay a fee. You can visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights at www.hhs.gov/ocr to get more information about your rights under HIPPA.

Stay tuned for more information on Identity Theft in the future!

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