Identity theft

How To Stay Ahead Of A Scam

Mar 5, 2018

With growing concerns about identity theft, cybersecurity and keeping your personal information safe from hackers, what’s a consumer to do?  If your personal information is compromised or you become a victim of a scam, where do you turn for help? This is National Consumer Protection Week, which aims to provide answers to questions like these.

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Yahoo recently announced that at least 500 million of their users had their information stolen in 2014. And earlier this year the Internal Revenue Service said a cyber hack of its system gained access to personal data from more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts.

According to the Identity Theft Research Center, more than 178 million records on Americans were exposed in cyberattacks last year. Hackers target both personal users and the data systems of large corporations to steal information for use in other criminal activities, to ransom back to the owner, or to further some ideological cause.

There was a time when the main concern of taxpayers was to make sure their tax forms were properly completed, their information was documented and their returns were in the mail by April 15. But today, tax filers must also worry about identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2014, tax fraud was the number one consumer complaint in how an identity theft victim'’s information was misused.

The recent massive data breach of health insurance company Anthem'’s customer and employee records once again highlights the need for security of digital information by both corporations and individuals. Hackers accessed tens of millions of records, which included Social Security numbers, names and other information criminals can use to steal a person’'s identity. Joining us to discuss how individuals can protect themselves and their digital information, and what to do if you are notified your records have been compromised are Bogdan "Bo" Vykhovanyuk, assistant vice president in the University of Cincinnati Office of Information Security; Dr. James Walden, associate professor at the Northern Kentucky University College of Informatics; and Dave Hatter, solution architect and partner with Definity Partners, LLC.


Definity Partners, LLC

  According to a recent report, there were 12.6 million victims of identity fraud in 2012. And increasingly, criminals are taking advantage of the poor security measures smartphone and tablet  owners use to gain access to important personal  information. Many users keep banking information on their phones or check their bank accounts via public Wi-Fi. And many people leave their phones unattended at their office  or in their parked cars.

A federal grand jury has indicted seven people for identity theft.  U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart says six of them are citizens of Zimbabwe who lived in the Cincinnati area at one time. He says they used the stolen identities to obtain millions in fraudulent income tax returns:

"The scheme was so efficient and well planned that they often had the refunds in hand before the actual taxpayers even filed their legitimate tax returns."