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Long Beach Press Telegram spotlights I.D. theft epidemic

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Would you like someone else to set up a bank account in your name using false taxpayer I.D. ‘s? It might sound like a good gift like getting season tickets to see the L.A. Dodgers. But the Internal Revenue Service requires you to file Form 8949 and other forms to document income that was NOT reported to the Internal Revenue Service. So if some careless financial institution is allowing somebody else to open investment accounts in your name in secret and does not send you the required reports, it can become an expensive waste of time. And all too often, what looks like a gift is a sophisticated I.D. theft scam since the shady financial institutions that open these kinds of unidentified flying bank accounts sneak in provisions that targets must pay the bank’s legal expenses if they file a claim about bank accounts being established in their name with false taxpayer I.D.’s.

This type of financial chaos has become so common, the Long Beach Press-Telegram made the topic the cover story of its January 31 edition. The same day, an investment analyst at Jeffries & Co. estimated that Target’s liability for security breaches could exceed $ 1 billion. The Long Beach Press-Telegram featured an interview with Scott Merritt, author of “Identity Theft Do’s and Don’ts.” The excellent feature article reports that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., with more than 12 million cases reported annually. The I.D. theft epidemic has become so large that sophisticated technology companies are making investments in new programs that could reduce the scale in the future.

In the meantime, there are also insurance choices – with premiums and deductibles of course. Farmers’ Insurance, based here in Los Angeles, offers a special product called “Identity Shield.” Its online information center describes how wire transfer and debt collection schemes are making the maze of I.D. theft a widespread nuisance.

Identity protection advocate Mark McCurley sees good reasons for companies that manage financial accounts and big-ticket purchases like season tickets to act responsibly. “Federal mandates and regulations can change daily and companies can be hit with hefty fines and penalties if they don’t comply,” said McCurley in a November 2013 prepared text. But some bad sports prefer to thumb their nose at this perspective and retain attorneys who advertise publicly that they threaten individuals who report misuse of their personal financial information to the authorities.

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