Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

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brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by brak » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:30 am

My elderly father just called me and informed me that he was just notified by the company that holds one of his IRA's that all of the money has been withdrawn from the account. They also gave him a number to call in the event that this was an unauthorized withdrawal. This was an unauthorized withdrawal, so I am assuming that my father has been the victim of identity theft. I have three questions: 1. what rights does he have to recoup the money that was withdrawn from his IRA without his authorization? 2. what steps should he undertake to protect investments he has at other institutions, such as Vanguard and Wells Fargo? , and 3. is there anything else he needs to do? Thank you.
Last edited by brak on Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

stan1
Posts: 4964
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by stan1 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:53 am

You and he need call the financial institution (FI) immediately. There are many possibilities. What they tell you should help you understand which threat vectors are more likely.

Here's some threat vectors
He made an error - FI may be able to reverse.

FI made an error - Yes this can happen. FI reverses

Insider fraud/elder abuse - someone with access to his house such as a relative, caregiver, or housecleaner took advantage of him. Call police.

US Mail intercept - if he is getting paper statements have any gone missing? Stop paper statements.

Computer malware - Is his computer patched and running antimalware software? He may need help with this but scan the computer for malware and make sure automatic software patches are enabled. If he has Windows XP buy him a new computer today.

Online passwords - is he using the same password at multiple sites? Change every password to be unique. Enable two factor authentication features.

There's more but beyond that it gets exotic.

Summary: You need to figure out what happened. Without additional information an error is more likely than fraud. Don't panic or speculate but take defensive actions now especially if he's behind on cyber hygiene. I'd enable as much home computer and online protection as possible right away and then I'd call each of his other FI's and notify them of fraudulent activity. They may be able to offer further account lockdowns.

cas
Posts: 143
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:41 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by cas » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:01 am

(bold added by me)
brak wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:30 am
My elderly father just called me and informed me that he was just notified by the company that holds one of his IRA's that all of the money has been withdrawn from the account. They also gave him a number to call in the event that this was an unauthorized withdrawal.
You have probably already done this, but just in case...

First thing I would do is make sure this isn't a phishing scam: Don't use the phone number that he was given, but find the real number of the financial institution (from their web site, a paper statement, etc.), call them, and confirm that the withdrawal really happened.
Last edited by cas on Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

stan1
Posts: 4964
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by stan1 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:03 am

cas wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:01 am
brak wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:30 am
My elderly father just called me and informed me that he was just notified by the company that holds one of his IRA's that all of the money has been withdrawn from the account. They also gave him a number to call in the event that this was an unauthorized withdrawal.
You have probably already done this, but just in case...

First thing I would do is make sure this isn't a phishing scam: Don't use the phone number that he was given, but find the real number of the financial institution (from their web site, a paper statement, etc.), call them, and confirm that the withdrawal really happened.
Yep, that too. How was he notified? By email? By US Mail? By Phone?

Invest4lt
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by Invest4lt » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:07 am

cas wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:01 am
brak wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:30 am
First thing I would do is make sure this isn't a phishing scam: Don't use the phone number that he was given, but find the real number of the financial institution (from their web site, a paper statement, etc.), call them, and confirm that the withdrawal really happened.
^This
Could very well be a phishing scam targeting the elderly. I’ve heard similar stories in the past.

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:18 am

He was informed by a letter from the account custodian which looked to be very authentic - it looked the same as the monthly statements he had been receiving in the past - same phone numbers, same everything.

stan1
Posts: 4964
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by stan1 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:19 am

brak wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:18 am
He was informed by a letter from the account custodian which looked to be very authentic - it looked the same as the monthly statements he had been receiving in the past - same phone numbers, same everything.
Call them ASAP.

SimonJester
Posts: 1317
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by SimonJester » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:14 am

Wondering what the outcome of this was. This is very troubling...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:27 pm

So here is what I know so far. The custodian of my father's IRA states that in early September they received a phone call from a man posing as my father, who passed all the security questions and requested a change in email address and that forms for withdrawal of funds be sent to that email. Around two weeks later the custodian received all the paperwork authorizing the withdrawal of funds from the account, and the electronic transfer of said funds into a bank account under my father's name at a bank he had never heard of and certainly did not use for banking (Regions Bank). The custodian states that the paperwork had my father's (alleged) signature notarized, and also included a copy of a check from the bank account into which the funds were to be deposited. At that point, the custodian effected the requested transfer of $52,000. That is where things stand. The custodian (Transamerica) is initiating an investigation, we will be filing a police report. I have no idea how this could have happened, and more importantly what safety precautions we need to take at this point. We are freezing my fathers accounts with Transition, Experian and Equifax but I don't know what else to do. And obviously the question of who is on the hook for the money lingers out there. Any and all input would be most welcomed.

Yankuba
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:45 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by Yankuba » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:15 pm

That's a terrible situation. You need to lock everything down and definitely get a police report. Here is a thread I found on another message board, but I believe there is good information on identity theft here at Bogleheads:

In light of the Equifax breech, and all of the various data leaks, as someone who has helped a family member go through an identity theft case as a victim, I thought I'd post this quick blurb on how to protect yourself.

These steps are mandatory, in my opinion, to stay reasonable secure as you can, under the circumstances, in today's world of hacked data and leaked secrets.

1. Freeze your credit (some suggest doing step 2 & 4 before this step, read notes below). If you live in 9 states, freezing it is free: http://blog.credit.com/2015/12/9-states ... ee-132672/ I had to pay to have my credit file frozen, but it is well worth it. I did it all online in minutes, paid with my credit card, and have had my credit frozen for several years. I did unfreeze my credit from time to time to apply for new credit cards, etc., and it was super simple to do so.
-if you're a victim of ID theft, file a police report, then use police report to get free freezing of your credit.
-pro tip - fraud alerts do nothing... my relative had fraud alerts on their file, and they still kept becoming victims of credit fraud.
-pro tip 2 - it is FAR cheaper to freeze your credit, and unfreeze it as needed, than to pay for ANY credit monitoring service. Do the math. I wish I had done this years earlier as it would have saved me a lot of money.
-pro tip 3 - use your credit card benefits, like Discover, Citibank, Chase, etc to monitor your credit score for free. If you see a dip in credit score, check your credit files ASAP.

1.1 - don't forget to freeze your credit with the "4th" credit bureau as well - https://www.innovis.com/securityFreeze/index (takes 1 minute and is free)

1.2 - some have suggested, you may want to step 2 & 4 before freezing your credit (creating your IRS account online, and setting up your social security account online). Also some links for freezing your credit (I recommend googling how to do this in case they change the links, but these are the current links for now)

https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/j ... IDInfo.jsp
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freez ... dit-freeze
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

2. sign up at IRS to reduce income tax fraud: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/03/sign ... t-for-you/ (link: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript - click on 'get transcripts online' and then you will see the log in / create accounts creen).

3. you also should place a fraud alert with Chex Systems. This is the consumer debit card & check clearing organization. It will reduce the likelihood of check fraud with your information as well. No one can open a bank account with your info fraudulently, for example. (link: https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsys ... formation/ )

4. open an account online with Social Security so no one else can pretend to be you and do it before you do. https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
-However, if you have frozen your credit, like I did, then you must go to the local Social Security office, present valid ID, to get a special exception to open your SS account online. So if you have frozen your credit, you are protected from scammers trying to open a SS account online with your data.
-still recommend going to local SS office to get the exception so you can monitor your SS online.

5. Use 2 factor authentication as much as possible (I use Google Authenticator app). With passwords being hacked left and right, you must turn on 2 factor authentication where you can.

6. Protect data on your PC by using programs like Veracrypt to securely store your private data. I have my credit freeze security codes stored in a secure Veracrypt container, which is then backed up to multiple places.

7. Set up credit card alerts. Most credit cards now have instant text / email alerts for transactions over a certain amount (I make mine $0 or $1), as well as alerts for "card not present" or "international transactions" types of activity. Make sure you set up alerts for credit card transactions!! I get instant alerts on any credit card charges via text AND email, so I can review it and make sure it's legit.

8. DO NOT use debit cards, they expose your actual bank balance to fraud. Use credit cards as a strong layer of protection between you and your cash. I never use my debit cards except at the bank and my bank's ATM only. I never use my debit cards at a merchant or 3rd party ATM. It's a lot harder to get cash back once it's stolen, than to prevent it from being lost in the first place!!

9. DO NOT use personal checks, if you can help it. Checks contain your bank account number, your address, and your bank routing number. That's a TON of data for crooks to use. I use bank bill-pay to write electronic checks that the bank prints / mails, and they use intermediary account #'s and routing #'s, to pay. That's a lot more secure than writing personal checks.

10. If you ever do any side-hustle, like 1099 type of work, apply for a free IRS EIN (electronic ID number). You can give this EIN to potential customers for the W9 form they may ask you to complete. This will help keep your social security number private.

If anyone else has other tips, please add them here. Hope this helps. This is the bare minimum of what I do to stay more secure from ID theft and credit fraud.

More good reads:

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/09/bre ... americans/

Freeze 101
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/06/how ... ty-freeze/

Bottom line - don't be apathetic and stare at this thread doing NOTHING. Act NOW. Pretend a pickpocket is actively trying to steal your wallet and all of your credit cards and cash, you have to make this a high priority and just get it done now! Being a victim is no fun, sucks a lot of time to combat, and get your credit back to normal. Much easier to do this now than later.

SimonJester
Posts: 1317
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by SimonJester » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:21 pm

Wow this is unbelievable! Why didn't Transamerica mail a letter to your father when the email change occurred?
For the paperwork to be notarized the thief needed to present some form of official ID.

At Vanguard I would have received multiple email and paper mailings. The change of email, then addition of a new bank account, and the transactions themselves all would generate a mailing home...

You should have your father freeze his Checksystem report as well. This may prevent the thief from opening additional bank accounts under your father's identity.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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pondering
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Location: 412-977-3526, originally 718-273-2422

Re: Identity theft

Post by pondering » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:22 pm

Check your statements. Make sure that you follow notification process if there’s a problem with your statement.

Make sure that once a month you check that you got all your statements.
--Robert Sterbal | 412-977-3526 call/text

Yankuba
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:45 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by Yankuba » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:27 pm

Vanguard now lets you do a voice verification thing - you say a sentence three times and they record you. If someone calls up pretending to be you they can't pass the voice verification.

ikowik
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2014 6:52 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by ikowik » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:37 pm

The puzzling part is how the thief knew about the IRA account. The Equifax breach, for example, could have revealed the name, date of birth, SSN etc' of OP's father. But not the IRA account and the security questions. So there must have been access to financial information on a computer that OP's father used.
I suggest running virus and malware scans, and changing passwords on all accounts.

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:16 pm

This is all incredibly helpful. Thanks so much!

Wakefield1
Posts: 645
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:10 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by Wakefield1 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:32 pm

brak wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:27 pm
So here is what I know so far. The custodian of my father's IRA states that in early September they received a phone call from a man posing as my father, who passed all the security questions and requested a change in email address and that forms for withdrawal of funds be sent to that email. Around two weeks later the custodian received all the paperwork authorizing the withdrawal of funds from the account, and the electronic transfer of said funds into a bank account under my father's name at a bank he had never heard of and certainly did not use for banking (Regions Bank). The custodian states that the paperwork had my father's (alleged) signature notarized, and also included a copy of a check from the bank account into which the funds were to be deposited. At that point, the custodian effected the requested transfer of $52,000. That is where things stand. The custodian (Transamerica) is initiating an investigation, we will be filing a police report. I have no idea how this could have happened, and more importantly what safety precautions we need to take at this point. We are freezing my fathers accounts with Transition, Experian and Equifax but I don't know what else to do. And obviously the question of who is on the hook for the money lingers out there. Any and all input would be most welcomed.
I wonder if the security question answers that had been set up were actual facts (grandmother's maiden name,city you were born in,etc.) or were they nonsense answers that no one would be apt to know --if they were nonsense,it seems to me that either the computer was remotely read (pwn'ed) or someone was in his house and had access to the written answers/questions.

Damn shame that the custodian didn't at least send a notification of the e-mail address change activity to the old e-mail address.

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:03 pm

The security question were actually facts.

fantasytensai
Posts: 343
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:30 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by fantasytensai » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:06 pm

brak wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:27 pm
So here is what I know so far. The custodian of my father's IRA states that in early September they received a phone call from a man posing as my father, who passed all the security questions and requested a change in email address and that forms for withdrawal of funds be sent to that email. Around two weeks later the custodian received all the paperwork authorizing the withdrawal of funds from the account, and the electronic transfer of said funds into a bank account under my father's name at a bank he had never heard of and certainly did not use for banking (Regions Bank). The custodian states that the paperwork had my father's (alleged) signature notarized, and also included a copy of a check from the bank account into which the funds were to be deposited. At that point, the custodian effected the requested transfer of $52,000. That is where things stand. The custodian (Transamerica) is initiating an investigation, we will be filing a police report. I have no idea how this could have happened, and more importantly what safety precautions we need to take at this point. We are freezing my fathers accounts with Transition, Experian and Equifax but I don't know what else to do. And obviously the question of who is on the hook for the money lingers out there. Any and all input would be most welcomed.
If the signature is notarized, then go after the notary. That's literally the reason why people require things notarized (and sounds like it helps you in this situation so it works out well).

Even if the notary is also another victim in this, your father can sue him for the amount of the damages caused.

ResearchMed
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:07 pm

brak wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:03 pm
The security question were actually facts.
Yes, but... those were "answered" by the account holder, and that info is all too available online these days.

Hence suggestions to have things like "Mother's Maiden Name" be made to be something like "asparagus" or birth city to be something like "basketball".

Etc.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

stan1
Posts: 4964
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by stan1 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:19 pm

Is it possible the person who did this is someone your father trusted? Grandchild, sibling, nephew or niece, housekeeper, caregiver, handyman, ex-spouse, ex-girlfriend, neighbor? I expect the police will ask questions along that path.

mhalley
Posts: 5135
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:02 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by mhalley » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:00 pm

I would imagine that with this degree of sophistication of identity theft it would be child’s play for the thief to create a drivers license or other form of id to show the notary. Or, how hard could it be to create a notary stamp? Everyone complains about the medallion signature guarantee, but I wonder if even that would have stopped this. Would 2 factor authentication have stopped this?

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:42 am

Stan - not possible that this crime was perpetrated by a trusted insider. Thanks.

User avatar
pondering
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Location: 412-977-3526, originally 718-273-2422

Re: Identity theft

Post by pondering » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:30 am

It isn't likely that this crime what perpetrated by just one person.

I would contact the state attorney general and the federal regulator for the account as well. If only to make sure the bank has done so.
--Robert Sterbal | 412-977-3526 call/text

cresive
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:12 pm
Location: Virginia, USA

Re: Identity theft

Post by cresive » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:52 am

brak wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:30 am
My elderly father just called me and informed me that he was just notified by the company that holds one of his IRA's that all of the money has been withdrawn from the account. They also gave him a number to call in the event that this was an unauthorized withdrawal. This was an unauthorized withdrawal, so I am assuming that my father has been the victim of identity theft. I have three questions: 1. what rights does he have to recoup the money that was withdrawn from his IRA without his authorization? 2. what steps should he undertake to protect investments he has at other institutions, such as Vanguard and Wells Fargo? , and 3. is there anything else he needs to do? Thank you.
There has been some excellent advice provided already--especially the suggestion to call the FI by your usual phone number. I do believe there is an ERISA coverage on the IRA. Also, many FI (e.g. FIdelity) do not actually hold the money but have the funds in a trust-like account. If the account is hacked, your money is guaranteed under ERISA or an equivalent act. IF your Father gave someone the password, then you need to hurry and contact the authorities as he is liable for the loss.

MikeG62
Posts: 507
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Identity theft

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:55 am

brak wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:27 pm
So here is what I know so far. The custodian of my father's IRA states that in early September they received a phone call from a man posing as my father, who passed all the security questions and requested a change in email address and that forms for withdrawal of funds be sent to that email. Around two weeks later the custodian received all the paperwork authorizing the withdrawal of funds from the account, and the electronic transfer of said funds into a bank account under my father's name at a bank he had never heard of and certainly did not use for banking (Regions Bank). The custodian states that the paperwork had my father's (alleged) signature notarized, and also included a copy of a check from the bank account into which the funds were to be deposited. At that point, the custodian effected the requested transfer of $52,000. That is where things stand. The custodian (Transamerica) is initiating an investigation, we will be filing a police report. I have no idea how this could have happened, and more importantly what safety precautions we need to take at this point. We are freezing my fathers accounts with Transition, Experian and Equifax but I don't know what else to do. And obviously the question of who is on the hook for the money lingers out there. Any and all input would be most welcomed.
OP, didn't your father get an e-mail to his existing e-mail account on file notifying him of the change in e-mail address?

tioscrooge
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed May 25, 2016 10:01 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by tioscrooge » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:08 am

Yankuba wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:15 pm
That's a terrible situation. You need to lock everything down and definitely get a police report. Here is a thread I found on another message board, but I believe there is good information on identity theft here at Bogleheads:

In light of the Equifax breech, and all of the various data leaks, as someone who has helped a family member go through an identity theft case as a victim, I thought I'd post this quick blurb on how to protect yourself.

These steps are mandatory, in my opinion, to stay reasonable secure as you can, under the circumstances, in today's world of hacked data and leaked secrets.

1. Freeze your credit (some suggest doing step 2 & 4 before this step, read notes below). If you live in 9 states, freezing it is free: http://blog.credit.com/2015/12/9-states ... ee-132672/ I had to pay to have my credit file frozen, but it is well worth it. I did it all online in minutes, paid with my credit card, and have had my credit frozen for several years. I did unfreeze my credit from time to time to apply for new credit cards, etc., and it was super simple to do so.
-if you're a victim of ID theft, file a police report, then use police report to get free freezing of your credit.
-pro tip - fraud alerts do nothing... my relative had fraud alerts on their file, and they still kept becoming victims of credit fraud.
-pro tip 2 - it is FAR cheaper to freeze your credit, and unfreeze it as needed, than to pay for ANY credit monitoring service. Do the math. I wish I had done this years earlier as it would have saved me a lot of money.
-pro tip 3 - use your credit card benefits, like Discover, Citibank, Chase, etc to monitor your credit score for free. If you see a dip in credit score, check your credit files ASAP.

1.1 - don't forget to freeze your credit with the "4th" credit bureau as well - https://www.innovis.com/securityFreeze/index (takes 1 minute and is free)

1.2 - some have suggested, you may want to step 2 & 4 before freezing your credit (creating your IRS account online, and setting up your social security account online). Also some links for freezing your credit (I recommend googling how to do this in case they change the links, but these are the current links for now)

https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/j ... IDInfo.jsp
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freez ... dit-freeze
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

2. sign up at IRS to reduce income tax fraud: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/03/sign ... t-for-you/ (link: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript - click on 'get transcripts online' and then you will see the log in / create accounts creen).

3. you also should place a fraud alert with Chex Systems. This is the consumer debit card & check clearing organization. It will reduce the likelihood of check fraud with your information as well. No one can open a bank account with your info fraudulently, for example. (link: https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsys ... formation/ )

4. open an account online with Social Security so no one else can pretend to be you and do it before you do. https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
-However, if you have frozen your credit, like I did, then you must go to the local Social Security office, present valid ID, to get a special exception to open your SS account online. So if you have frozen your credit, you are protected from scammers trying to open a SS account online with your data.
-still recommend going to local SS office to get the exception so you can monitor your SS online.

5. Use 2 factor authentication as much as possible (I use Google Authenticator app). With passwords being hacked left and right, you must turn on 2 factor authentication where you can.

6. Protect data on your PC by using programs like Veracrypt to securely store your private data. I have my credit freeze security codes stored in a secure Veracrypt container, which is then backed up to multiple places.

7. Set up credit card alerts. Most credit cards now have instant text / email alerts for transactions over a certain amount (I make mine $0 or $1), as well as alerts for "card not present" or "international transactions" types of activity. Make sure you set up alerts for credit card transactions!! I get instant alerts on any credit card charges via text AND email, so I can review it and make sure it's legit.

8. DO NOT use debit cards, they expose your actual bank balance to fraud. Use credit cards as a strong layer of protection between you and your cash. I never use my debit cards except at the bank and my bank's ATM only. I never use my debit cards at a merchant or 3rd party ATM. It's a lot harder to get cash back once it's stolen, than to prevent it from being lost in the first place!!

9. DO NOT use personal checks, if you can help it. Checks contain your bank account number, your address, and your bank routing number. That's a TON of data for crooks to use. I use bank bill-pay to write electronic checks that the bank prints / mails, and they use intermediary account #'s and routing #'s, to pay. That's a lot more secure than writing personal checks.

10. If you ever do any side-hustle, like 1099 type of work, apply for a free IRS EIN (electronic ID number). You can give this EIN to potential customers for the W9 form they may ask you to complete. This will help keep your social security number private.

If anyone else has other tips, please add them here. Hope this helps. This is the bare minimum of what I do to stay more secure from ID theft and credit fraud.

More good reads:

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/09/bre ... americans/

Freeze 101
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/06/how ... ty-freeze/

Bottom line - don't be apathetic and stare at this thread doing NOTHING. Act NOW. Pretend a pickpocket is actively trying to steal your wallet and all of your credit cards and cash, you have to make this a high priority and just get it done now! Being a victim is no fun, sucks a lot of time to combat, and get your credit back to normal. Much easier to do this now than later.
Thank you very much for posting this. Very useful tips. I know now why I could not open an SSS account online. Krebsonsecurity is a good blog to read.

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BolderBoy
Posts: 3395
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Location: Colorado

Re: Identity theft

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:33 pm

brak wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:27 pm
Any and all input would be most welcomed.
The odds are that this was an inside job of some stripe.
“Where you stand, depends on where you sit” - Rufus Miles | "Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities"

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:52 pm

What makes you say that?

brak
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:00 am

Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:54 pm

MikeG62 - my father, being 98, does not use email, nor was there an email address on file for him with the custodian. But he did not receive any written notification of an email address being added to the account.

Wakefield1
Posts: 645
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:10 pm

Re: Identity theft

Post by Wakefield1 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:32 pm

brak wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:54 pm
MikeG62 - my father, being 98, does not use email, nor was there an email address on file for him with the custodian. But he did not receive any written notification of an email address being added to the account.
Did the custodian make any attempt to contact your father by phone about the activity on his account? Being as he didn't use e-mail with the account did he also not have/use log on computer access to his account? Does he or does he not have online access to his other accounts (like Vanguard,I thought they required me to give them an e-mail address when adding the online access to my accounts (I don't think they even had online access or Vanguard.com when I opened my first account with them,nor did I own a computer)
Sounds to me like the custodian might have been a little deficient in its security practice.
I guess there are a couple things a detective could try to develop as leads-the phone # the thief used to start the takeover(might be spoofed on caller ID) -the bank account that the funds were stolen to-was it opened shortly before the crime and then closed immediately?

FlyingMoose
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Re: Identity theft

Post by FlyingMoose » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:18 am

This is really scary. If you retitle the thread something more like "retirement account stolen" you'll probly get more replies.

brak
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Re: Identity theft

Post by brak » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:44 am

Wakefield 1 - my father had no computer access to his account whatsoever, it was never set up. Incidentally, you can set it up with Vanguard so that you do not have any online access as well. The custodian did not make any attempt to contact my father about the request to add an email address to the account.
FlyingMoose - Good suggestion. How do you retitle a thread?
Thanks

Wakefield1
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Re: Identity theft

Post by Wakefield1 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:29 am

brak wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:44 am
Wakefield 1 - my father had no computer access to his account whatsoever, it was never set up. Incidentally, you can set it up with Vanguard so that you do not have any online access as well. The custodian did not make any attempt to contact my father about the request to add an email address to the account.
FlyingMoose - Good suggestion. How do you retitle a thread?
Thanks
O.K. I think the custodian was remiss in its duty. Totally.

I guess it would be well for your father to call and speak to Wells and Vanguard to tell them about what happened,that is someone may call them or have already called pretending to be him.

furwut
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by furwut » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:38 am

So what happened to the money - $52,000 - that was fraudulently transferred to the bank? Was the account cashed out?

brak
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by brak » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:52 am

The account was cashed out except for money left behind to pay for taxes. The money was transferred to another bank, and the custodian says that the account to which the money was transferred was opened under my father's name.

SimonJester
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by SimonJester » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:49 am

brak wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:52 am
The account was cashed out except for money left behind to pay for taxes. The money was transferred to another bank, and the custodian says that the account to which the money was transferred was opened under my father's name.
So the next question where did the money go from that bank account. Taken as cash? That would generate a SAR. Have you contacted that bank to let them know what is going on? What is that bank doing about it?
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Nate79
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by Nate79 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:08 am

I had a recent email from Wells Fargo that they are adding the voiceprint security similar to Vanguard. I would suggest that he add this security to help prevent this from happening by phone in the future.

benevo
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Re: Identity theft

Post by benevo » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:13 am

cas wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:01 am
First thing I would do is make sure this isn't a phishing scam: Don't use the phone number that he was given, but find the real number of the financial institution (from their web site, a paper statement, etc.), call them, and confirm that the withdrawal really happened.
^^ THIS

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BolderBoy
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Re: Identity theft

Post by BolderBoy » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:28 am

brak wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:52 pm
What makes you say that?
"Inside Job".

Because the law enforcement statistics show that it usually is. And that is where they start looking first. And by "inside job" they mean that someone has intimate knowledge on a rather first-hand basis.
“Where you stand, depends on where you sit” - Rufus Miles | "Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities"

NewPhoneWhoDis
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Re: Identity theft

Post by NewPhoneWhoDis » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:30 am

-deleted-
Last edited by NewPhoneWhoDis on Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Wakefield1
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Re: Identity theft

Post by Wakefield1 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:50 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:28 am
brak wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:52 pm
What makes you say that?
"Inside Job".

Because the law enforcement statistics show that it usually is. And that is where they start looking first. And by "inside job" they mean that someone has intimate knowledge on a rather first-hand basis.
Could "inside job" also have been someone employed by the financial custodian?
Many 98 year olds do have maid services or medical helpers coming into the home

Rupert
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by Rupert » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:01 pm

OP, Regions Bank is a legit bank headquartered in Birmingham, AL. It's considered a regional bank in the Southeast, I think, and is fairly large. Point being: It's not a fly-by-night operation. If someone walked into one of their branches and opened an account in your father's name, they had some good-quality fraudulent identification. This fact, combined with the fact that the fraudster could answer your father's security questions, adds to the suspicion that this fraud was perpetrated by someone your father interacted with (note, not necessarily someone he knew, just someone he interacted with, perhaps by phone) or someone who had access to his computer (assuming he uses one). Regions likely has (or had) video of the person who opened the fraudulent account. They may not keep such video indefinitely though. The quicker you get the police involved and have them contact Regions, the better. If you don't get a good response from your local PD, call your local US Attorney's Office and see if the feds might be interested in this. I'm not sure if it would fall under the FBI's or the Secret Service's jurisdiction. So I'd start with the US Attorney.

Has anyone called your father recently claiming to be a representative of a company he does business with? Someone who might have asked him questions to verify his identity? I know of a fraudulent scheme whereby the fraudster would dumpster dive at nursing homes, discover who the nursing home residents banked with, etc., and then call the nursing home residents pretending to be a fraud investigator for their financial institutions. The fraudster managed to take physical possession of their credit and debit cards this way. I think this is the sort of person you might be looking for in your father's case.

Edited to add: Your state Attorney General's Office may also have a department or division devoted to financial crimes against the elderly. You might contact them to see if they'd be interested in looking at the case.

letsgobobby
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:09 pm

I was just going to start a new thread about something similar. Clark Howard has opined that the Equifax breach now opens up the possibility of easy and routine theft of retirement and investment accounts, since essentially all personal information used to verify identity is now in the hands of crooks. His comments really scared me. It's not clear what steps can be taken to prevent this. A credit freeze would seem to have no impact whatsoever.

Clark also mentioned the possibility of property records being interfered with. Imagine if you attempt to refinance your mortgage only to find you no longer own your property? Or your home is listed on ZIllow for sale/rent? Since the bad guys now have current and former addresses, driver's license numbers, SSNs and dates of birth, credit card information, etc., they have access to substantially all of the personal data about yourself that you have. Can't they do just about anything they want?

And then there is the fraudulent tax refund filing. I'm going to make an effort to have a tiny refund this year but my income is chaotic enough that it will be difficult to do without potentially owing a penalty.

Wakefield1
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by Wakefield1 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:12 pm

My mother is 94 years old. We get calls from unknown or spoofed numbers seemingly several times daily. (Caller I.D.). We generally don't answer these calls. Some of them are ordinary sales or charity solicitors but I think some of them are malicious attempts to collect personal or account information. Fortunately both my mother and myself are kind of paranoid about the phone calls and strangers coming to the house but sometimes you have to interact with professionals or use their services.
I think scammy phone callers zero in on old people. (and I have been called old)

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pondering
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by pondering » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:17 pm

Was there an email address associated with the account to change?
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Ashley1748
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by Ashley1748 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:23 pm

I will recommend that you also file for fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies.

An initial fraud alert lasts 90 days. If you’re an ID-theft victim, you can get a extended fraud alert that stays in place for seven years. But you may be better off with the 90-day alert because that allows you to get a free credit report from each of the four credit bureaus each time you renew the alert.

Even though security freeze is a stronger option, in your case I would do both. Another advantage of fraud alert is that it put lenders and banks on notice to be extra careful in verifying your identity.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:30 pm

Who has access to his mail? Could someone be intercepting mail coming to his address?

mhalley
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by mhalley » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:54 pm

Because of this thread I decided to double check my accounts text alerts and discovered that I had not completed the setup on one of my accounts. :oops: so if you have not double checked your account settings, you might do that to make sure they are enabled.

docbrown
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Re: Identity theft

Post by docbrown » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:01 pm

Yankuba wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:15 pm
That's a terrible situation. You need to lock everything down and definitely get a police report. Here is a thread I found on another message board, but I believe there is good information on identity theft here at Bogleheads:
This is an excellent list. I don't know if it's my place to make such a request, but can this be the basis of a financial security page on the wiki, so that it can be updated from time to time?
Roth was a Senator, not an acronym. Please, stop writing it in all caps.

investor997
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Re: Retirement Account Stolen by Identity theft

Post by investor997 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:08 pm

letsgobobby wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:09 pm
I was just going to start a new thread about something similar. Clark Howard has opined that the Equifax breach now opens up the possibility of easy and routine theft of retirement and investment accounts, since essentially all personal information used to verify identity is now in the hands of crooks. His comments really scared me. It's not clear what steps can be taken to prevent this. A credit freeze would seem to have no impact whatsoever.
At this point I think what I'm going to do is log in to all my noteworthy accounts and change the answers to any and all account recovery security questions to bogus data, then store these answers in a secure vault backed up to multiple locations, including air-gapped.

Only the paranoid survive...

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