Monday, June 18, 2012


As amended by Public Law 105-318, 112 Stat. 3007 (Oct. 30, 1998)

An Act
To amend chapter 47 of title 18, United States Code, relating to identity fraud, and for other purposes. [NOTE: Oct. 30, 1998 -  [H.R. 4151]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, [NOTE: Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998.]
001.  Short Title
002.  Constitutional Authority to Enact this Legislation.
003.  Identity Theft
004.  Amendment of Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Offenses Under Section 1028
005.  Centralized Complaint and Consumer Education Service for Victims of Identity Theft
006.  Technical Amendments to Title 18, United States Code
007.  Redaction of Ethics Reports Filed by Judicial Officers and Employees
§ 001.  Short Title. [NOTE: 18 USC 1001 note.]

This Act may be cited as the "Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998".

§ 002. Constitutional Authority to Enact this Legislation. [NOTE: 18 USC 1028 note.]

The constitutional authority upon which this Act rests is the power of Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, and the authority to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof, as set forth in article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution.

§ 003.  Identity Theft.

    (a) Establishment of Offense.--Section 1028(a) of title 18, United   States Code, is amended--
(1) in paragraph (5), by striking "or" at the end;
(2) in paragraph (6), by adding "or" at the end;
(3) in the flush matter following paragraph (6), by striking "or attempts to do so,"; and
(4) by inserting after paragraph (6) the following:
"(7) knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law;".

(b) Penalties.--Section 1028(b) of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) in paragraph (1)--

(A) in subparagraph (B), by striking "or" at the end;
(B) in subparagraph (C), by adding "or" at the end; and
(C) by adding at the end the following:
"(D) an offense under paragraph (7) of such subsection that involves the transfer or use of 1 or more means of identification if, as a result of the offense, any individual committing the offense obtains anything of value aggregating $1,000 or more during any 1-year period;";
(2) in paragraph (2)--
(A) in subparagraph (A), by striking "or transfer of an identification document or" and inserting ", transfer, or use of a means of identification, an identification document, or a"; and
(B) in subparagraph (B), by inserting "or (7)" after "(3)";
(3) by amending paragraph (3) to read as follows:
"(3) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more  than 20 years, or both, if the offense is committed--
"(A) to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (as defined in section 929(a)(2));
"(B) in connection with a crime of violence (as defined in section 924(c)(3)); or
"(C) after a prior conviction under this section becomes final;";
(4) in paragraph (4), by striking "and" at the end;
(5) by redesignating paragraph (5) as paragraph (6); and
(6) by inserting after paragraph (4) the following:
"(5) in the case of any offense under subsection (a), forfeiture to the United States of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense; and".
(c) Circumstances.--Section 1028(c) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the following:
"(3) either--
"(A) the production, transfer, possession, or use prohibited by this section is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce; or
"(B) the means of identification, identification document, false identification document, or document- making implement is transported in the mail in the course of the production, transfer, possession, or use prohibited by this section.".
(d) Definitions.--Subsection (d) of section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
"(d) In this section--
"(1) the term `document-making implement' means any implement, impression, electronic device, or computer hardware or software, that is specifically configured or primarily used for making an identification document, a false identification document, or another document-making implement;
"(2) the term `identification document' means a document made or issued by or under the authority of the United States Government, a State, political subdivision of a State, a foreign government, political subdivision of a foreign government, an international governmental or an international quasi-governmental organization which, when completed with information concerning a particular individual, is of a type intended or commonly accepted for the purpose of identification of individuals;
"(3) the term `means of identification' means any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual, including any--
"(A) name, social security number, date of birth, official State or government issued driver's license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number;
"(B) unique biometric data, such as fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image, or other unique physical representation;
"(C) unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code; or
"(D) telecommunication identifying information or access device (as defined in section 1029(e));
"(4) the term `personal identification card' means an identification document issued by a State or local government solely for the purpose of identification;
"(5) the term `produce' includes alter, authenticate, or assemble; and
"(6) the term `State' includes any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any other commonwealth, possession, or territory of the United States.".
(e) Attempt and Conspiracy.--Section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
"(f ) Attempt and Conspiracy.--Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.".
(f ) Forfeiture Procedures.--Section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
"(g) Forfeiture Procedures.--The forfeiture of property under this section, including any seizure and disposition of the property and any related judicial or administrative proceeding, shall be governed by the provisions of section 413 (other than subsection (d) of that section) of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 853).".
(g) Rule of Construction.--Section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
"(h) Rule of Construction.--For purpose of subsection (a)(7), a single identification document or false identification document that contains 1 or more means of identification shall be construed to be 1 means of identification.".
(h) Conforming Amendments.--Chapter 47 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) in the heading for section 1028, by adding "and information" at the end; and
(2) in the table of sections at the beginning of the chapter, in the item relating to section 1028, by adding "and information" at the end.
§ 004.  Amendment of Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Offenses Under Section 1028. [NOTE: 28 USC 994 note.]

(a) In General.--Pursuant to its authority under section 994(p) of title 28, United States Code, the United States Sentencing Commission shall review and amend the Federal sentencing guidelines and the policy statements of the Commission, as appropriate, to provide an appropriate penalty for each offense under section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by this Act.
(b) Factors for Consideration.--In carrying out subsection (a), the United States Sentencing Commission shall consider, with respect to each offense described in subsection (a)--
(1) the extent to which the number of victims (as defined in section 3663A(a) of title 18, United States Code) involved in the offense, including harm to reputation, inconvenience, and other difficulties resulting from the offense, is an adequate measure for establishing penalties under the Federal sentencing guidelines;
(2) the number of means of identification, identification documents, or false identification documents (as those terms are defined in section 1028(d) of title 18, United States Code, as amended by this Act) involved in the offense, is an adequate measure for establishing penalties under the Federal sentencing
(3) the extent to which the value of the loss to any individual caused by the offense is an adequate measure for establishing penalties under the Federal sentencing guidelines;
(4) the range of conduct covered by the offense;
(5) the extent to which sentencing enhancements within the Federal sentencing guidelines and the court's authority to sentence above the applicable guideline range are adequate to ensure punishment at or near the maximum penalty for the most egregious conduct covered by the offense;
(6) the extent to which Federal sentencing guidelines sentences for the offense have been constrained by statutory maximum penalties;
(7) the extent to which Federal sentencing guidelines for the offense adequately achieve the purposes of sentencing set forth in section 3553(a)(2) of title 18, United States Code; and
(8) any other factor that the United States Sentencing Commission considers to be appropriate.
§ 005. Centralized Complaing and Consumer Education Service for Victims of Identity Theft. [NOTE: 18 USC 1028 note.]
(a) In <<NOTE: Deadline.>> General.--Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall establish procedures to--
(1) log and acknowledge the receipt of complaints by individuals who certify that they have a reasonable belief that 1 or more of their means of identification (as defined in section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by this Act) have been assumed, stolen, or otherwise unlawfully acquired in violation of section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by this Act;
(2) provide informational materials to individuals described in paragraph (1); and
(3) refer complaints described in paragraph (1) to appropriate entities, which may include referral to--
(A) the 3 major national consumer reporting agencies; and
(B) appropriate law enforcement agencies for potential law enforcement action.
(b) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section.
§ 006.  Technical Amendments to Title 18, United States Code.

(a) Technical Correction Relating to Criminal Forfeiture Procedures.--Section 982(b)(1) of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows: "(1) The forfeiture of property under
this section, including any seizure and disposition of the property and any related judicial or administrative proceeding, shall be governed by the provisions of section 413 (other than subsection (d) of that section) of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of
1970 (21 U.S.C. 853).".
(b) Economic Espionage and Theft of Trade Secrets as Predicate Offenses for Wire Interception.--Section 2516(1)(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting "chapter 90 (relating to protection of trade secrets)," after "to espionage),".
§ 007. Redaction of Ethics Reports Filed by Judicial Officers and Employees.
Section 105(b) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
"(3)(A) This section does not require the immediate and unconditional availability of reports filed by an individual described in section 109(8) or 109(10) of this Act if a finding is made by the Judicial Conference, in consultation with United States Marshall Service, that revealing personal and sensitive information could endanger that individual.
"(B) A report may be redacted pursuant to this paragraph only--
"(i) to the extent necessary to protect the individual who filed the report; and
"(ii) for as long as the danger to such individual exists.
"(C) The Administrative Office of the United States Courts shall submit to the Committees on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and of the Senate an annual report with respect to the operation of this paragraph including--
"(i) the total number of reports redacted pursuant to this paragraph;
"(ii) the total number of individuals whose reports have been redacted pursuant to this paragraph; and
"(iii) the types of threats against individuals whose reports are redacted, if appropriate.
"(D) The Judicial Conference, in consultation with the Department of Justice, shall issue regulations setting forth the circumstances under which redaction is appropriate under this paragraph and the procedures for redaction.[NOTE: Regulations.]
"(E) This paragraph shall expire on December 31, 2001, and apply to filings through calendar year 2001.". [NOTE: Expiration date.]
Approved October 30, 1998.


SENATE REPORTS: No. 105-274 accompanying S. 512 (Comm. on the Judiciary).

Oct. 7, considered and passed House.
Oct. 14, considered and passed Senate.

Oct. 30, Presidential statement.

What Are Identity Theft and Identity Fraud?

    "But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed."
    - Shakespeare, Othello, act iii. Sc. 3.

    The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. These Web pages are intended to explain why you need to take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft. Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data ­ especially your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data ­ can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense. In the United States and Canada, for example, many people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, taken over their identities altogether, running up vast debts and committing crimes while using the victims's names. In many cases, a victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible. 

    In one notorious case of identity theft, the criminal, a convicted felon, not only incurred more than $100,000 of credit card debt, obtained a federal home loan, and bought homes, motorcycles, and handguns in the victim's name, but called his victim to taunt him -- saying that he could continue to pose as the victim for as long as he wanted because identity theft was not a federal crime at that time -- before filing for bankruptcy, also in the victim's name. While the victim and his wife spent more than four years and more than $15,000 of their own money to restore their credit and reputation, the criminal served a brief sentence for making a false statement to procure a firearm, but made no restitution to his victim for any of the harm he had caused. This case, and others like it, prompted Congress in 1998 to create a new federal offense of identity theft.
  • What are the Most Common Ways To Commit Identity Theft or Fraud?
    • Many people do not realize how easily criminals can obtain our personal data without having to break into our homes. In public places, for example, criminals may engage in "shoulder surfing" ­ watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number ­ or listen in on your conversation if you give your credit-card number over the telephone to a hotel or rental car company.

      Even the area near your home or office may not be secure. Some criminals engage in "dumpster diving" ­ going through your garbage cans or a communal dumpster or trash bin -- to obtain copies of your checks, credit card or bank statements, or other records that typically bear your name, address, and even your telephone number. These types of records make it easier for criminals to get control over accounts in your name and assume your identity.

      If you receive applications for "preapproved" credit cards in the mail, but discard them without tearing up the enclosed materials, criminals may retrieve them and try to activate the cards for their use without your knowledge. (Some credit card companies, when sending credit cards, have adopted security measures that allow a card recipient to activate the card only from his or her home telephone number but this is not yet a universal practice.) Also, if your mail is delivered to a place where others have ready access to it, criminals may simply intercept and redirect your mail to another location.

      In recent years, the Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to obtain identifying data, such as passwords or even banking information. In their haste to explore the exciting features of the Internet, many people respond to "spam" ­ unsolicited E-mail ­ that promises them some benefit but requests identifying data, without realizing that in many cases, the requester has no intention of keeping his promise. In some cases, criminals reportedly have used computer technology to obtain large amounts of personal data.

      With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual's identity to conduct a wide range of crimes: for example, false applications for loans and credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, or obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name. If the criminal takes steps to ensure that bills for the falsely obtained credit cards, or bank statements showing the unauthorized withdrawals, are sent to an address other than the victim's, the victim may not become aware of what is happing until the criminal has already inflicted substantial damage on the victim's assets, credit, and reputation.

  • What's the Department of Justice Doing About Identity Theft and Fraud?
    • The Department of Justice prosecutes cases of identity theft and fraud under a variety of federal statutes. In the fall of 1998, for example, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act . This legislation created a new offense of identity theft, which prohibits knowingly transfer[ring] or us[ing], without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.

      18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7). This offense, in most circumstances, carries a maximum term of 15 years' imprisonment, a fine, and criminal forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense.

      Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud may also involve violations of other statutes such as identification fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1028), credit card fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1029), computer fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1030), mail fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), or financial institution fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344). Each of these federal offenses are felonies that carry substantial penalties ­ in some cases, as high as 30 years' imprisonment, fines, and criminal forfeiture.

      Federal prosecutors work with federal investigative agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service to prosecute identity theft and fraud cases.

      Here are some examples of recent cases:
      Central District of California. A woman pleaded guilty to federal charges of using a stolen Social Security number to obtain thousands of dollars in credit and then filing for bankruptcy in the name of her victim. More recently, a man was indicted, pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to 27 months' imprisonment for obtaining private bank account information about an insurance company's policyholders and using that information to deposit $764,000 in counterfeit checks into a bank account he established.

      Central District of California.  Two of three defendants have pleaded guilty to identity theft, bank fraud,  and related charges for their roles in a scheme to open bank accounts with both real and fake identification documents, deposit U.S. Treasury checks that were stolen from the mail, and withdraw funds from those accounts.

      Middle District of Florida.  A defendant has been indicted on bank fraud charges for obtaining names, addresses, and Social Security numbers from a Web site and using those data to apply for a series of car loans over the Internet.

      Southern District of Florida. A woman was indicted and pleaded guilty to federal charges involving her obtaining a fraudulent driver's license in the name of the victim, using the license to withdraw more than $13,000 from the victim's bank account, and obtaining five department store credit cards in the victim's name and charging approximately $4,000 on those cards.

      District of Kansas.  A defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy, odometer fraud, and mail fraud for operating an odometer "rollback" scheme on used cars.  The defendant used false and assumed identities, including the identities of deceased persons, to obtain false identification documents and fraudulent car titles.

  • What Can I Do About Identity Theft and Fraud?
    • To victims of identity theft and fraud, the task of correcting incorrect information about their financial or personal status, and trying to restore their good names and reputations, may seem as daunting as trying to solve a puzzle in which some of the pieces are missing and other pieces no longer fit as they once did. Unfortunately, the damage that criminals do in stealing another person's identity and using it to commit fraud often takes far longer to undo than it took the criminal to commit the crimes.

  • What Should I Do To Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft?
    • To reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are some basic steps you can take. For starters, just remember the word "SCAM": 

      S     Be stingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are:

      At Home:
      1. Start by adopting a "need to know" approach to your personal data. Your credit card company may need to know your mother's maiden name, so that it can verify your identity when you call to inquire about your account. A person who calls you and says he's from your bank, however, doesn't need to know that information if it's already on file with your bank; the only purpose of such a call is to acquire that information for that person's personal benefit.

      Also, the more information that you have printed on your personal bank checks -- such as your Social Security number or home telephone number -- the more personal data you are routinely handing out to people who may not need that information.

      2.If someone you don't know calls you on the telephone and offers you the chance to receive a "major" credit card, a prize, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data -- such as your Social Security number, credit card number or expiration date, or mother's maiden name -- ask them to send you a written application form.

      3.If they won't do it, tell them you're not interested and hang up.

      4.If they will, review the application carefully when you receive it and make sure it's going to a company or financial institution that's well-known and reputable. The Better Business Bureau can give you information about businesses that have been the subject of complaints.

      On Travel:
      1.If you're traveling, have your mail held at your local post office, or ask someone you know well and trust ­ another family member, a friend, or a neighbor ­ to collect and hold your mail while you're away.
      2.If you have to telephone someone while you're traveling, and need to pass on personal financial information to the person you're calling, don't do it at an open telephone booth where passersby can listen in on what you're saying; use a telephone booth where you can close the door, or wait until you're at a less public location to call.

      C    Check your financial information regularly, and look for what should be there and what shouldn't: 

      What Should Be There:
      1.If you have bank or credit card accounts, you should be receiving monthly statements that list transactions for the most recent month or reporting period.
      2.If you're not receiving monthly statements for the accounts you know you have, call the financial institution or credit card company immediately and ask about it.
      3.If you're told that your statements are being mailed to another address that you haven't authorized, tell the financial institution or credit card representative immediately that you did not authorize the change of address and that someone may be improperly using your accounts. In that situation, you should also ask for copies of all statements and debit or charge transactions that have occurred since the last statement you received. Obtaining those copies will help you to work with the financial institution or credit card company in determining whether some or all of those debit or charge transactions were fraudulent.

      What Shouldn't Be There:
      1.If someone has gotten your financial data and made unauthorized debits or charges against your financial accounts, checking your monthly statements carefully may be the quickest way for you to find out. Too many of us give those statements, or the enclosed checks or credit transactions, only a quick glance, and don't review them closely to make sure there are no unauthorized withdrawals or charges.

      2.If someone has managed to get access to your mail or other personal data, and opened any credit cards in your name or taken any funds from your bank account, contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately to report those transactions and to request further action.

      A    Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report.
      Your credit report should list all bank and financial accounts under your name, and will provide other indications of whether someone has wrongfully opened or used any accounts in your name.
      M    Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.

      Even though financial institutions are required to maintain copies of your checks, debit transactions, and similar transactions for five years, you should retain your monthly statements and checks for at least one year, if not more. If you need to dispute a particular check or transaction ­ especially if they purport to bear your signatures ­ your original records will be more immediately accessible and useful to the institutions that you have contacted.

      Even if you take all of these steps, however, it's still possible that you can become a victim of identity theft. Records containing your personal data -- credit-card receipts or car-rental agreements, for example -- may be found by or shared with someone who decides to use your data for fraudulent purposes.

  • What Should I Do If I've Become a Victim of Identity Theft?
    • If you think you've become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation. Here's a list -- based in part on a checklist prepared by the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse -- of some actions that you should take right away:
      1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation, whether Online,
      2. By telephone toll-free at 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338) or TDD at 202-326-2502, or
      3. By mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

      Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act , the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they may be victims of identity theft, providing informational materials to those people, and referring those complaints to appropriate entities, including the major credit reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies. For further information, please check the FTC's identity theft Web pages . You can also call your local office of the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service to report crimes relating to identity theft and fraud.

      You may also need to contact other agencies for other types of identity theft:
      1. Your local office of the Postal Inspection Service if you suspect that an identity thief has submitted a change-of-address form with the Post Office to redirect your mail, or has used the mail to commit frauds involving your identity;
      2. The Social Security Administration if you suspect that your Social Security number is being fraudulently used (call 800-269-0271 to report the fraud);
      3. The Internal Revenue Service if you suspect the improper use of identification information in connection with tax violations (call 1-800-829-0433 to report the violations).
      Call the fraud units of the three principal credit reporting companies:
      1. To report fraud, call (800) 525-6285 or write to P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374-0250.
      2. To order a copy of your credit report ($8 in most states), write to P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241, or call (800) 685-1111.
      3. To dispute information in your report, call the phone number provided on your credit report.
      4. To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit, call (888) 567-8688 or write to Equifax Options, P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta GA 30374-0123.
      Experian (formerly TRW)
      1. To report fraud, call (888) EXPERIAN or (888) 397-3742, fax to (800) 301-7196, or write to P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013.
      2. To order a copy of your credit report ($8 in most states): P.O. Box 2104, Allen TX 75013, or call (888) EXPERIAN.
      3. To dispute information in your report, call the phone number provided on your credit report.
      4. To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists, call (800) 353-0809 or (888) 5OPTOUT or write to P.O. Box 919, Allen, TX 75013.
      1. To report fraud, call (800) 680-7289 or write to P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634.
      2. To order a copy of your credit report ($8 in most states), write to P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064 or call: (800) 888-4213.
      3. To dispute information in your report, call the phone number provided on your credit report.
      4. To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists, call (800) 680-7293 or (888) 5OPTOUT or write to P.O Box 97328, Jackson, MS 39238.
      Contact all creditors with whom your name or identifying data have been fraudulently used. For example, you may need to contact your long-distance telephone company if your long-distance calling card has been stolen or you find fraudulent charges on your bill.
      Contact all financial institutions where you have accounts that an identity thief has taken over or that have been created in your name but without your knowledge. You may need to cancel those accounts, place stop-payment orders on any outstanding checks that may not have cleared, and change your Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, account, and Personal Identification Number (PIN).
      Contact the major check verification companies (listed in the CalPIRG-Privacy Rights Clearinghouse checklist) if you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up by an identity thief. In particular, if you know that a particular merchant has received a check stolen from you, contact the verification company that the merchant uses:
      1. CheckRite -- (800) 766-2748
      2. ChexSystems -- (800) 428-9623 (closed checking accounts)
      3. CrossCheck -- (800) 552-1900
      4. Equifax -- (800) 437-5120
      5. National Processing Co. (NPC) -- (800) 526-5380
      6. SCAN -- (800) 262-7771
      7. TeleCheck -- (800) 710-9898
  • Where Can I Find Out More About Identity Theft and Fraud?

Detecting Fraudulent Documents and Degree/Diploma Mills

The most effective and reliable way of combating fraudulent documents is to adhere to strict document requirements and to insist on receiving credentials in the appropriate form directly from the institutions that issue them.

Documents taken from an applicant must be reviewed with great care. The presence of certain indicators dictates that a document be sent back for verification to the institution that issued it. Some of those clues are as follows:

  • The document shows grades that are very high by the standards of a system where grades are typically clustered at the lower end.
  • The format of the document is unusual for the institution or the system of education.
  • The document contains inconsistent typeface elements.
  • The document contains spelling errors.
  • The document is marked as "confidential" and yet it is submitted by an applicant.
  • The transcript or diploma is a colored photocopy.
  • Lines, words, numbers, etc. appear crooked on the page.
  • Lines, words, numbers, etc. are missing from the use of white-out.
  • The document is not signed and/or sealed.
These are blatant clues that a document may not be authentic. But as counterfeiters now use sophisticated computers and printers, the documents that they produce can be flawless and are not easy to detect. Only strict standards for the submission and receipt of academic credentials can help eliminate fraudulent documents.

Degree/Diploma Mills

Degree mills are shady outfits that sell degrees and transcripts that are not backed up by appropriate study or examinations. Although they usually give themselves legitimate sounding university names, degree mills operate out of mail drops and are difficult to trace. They are quite prevalent on the Internet where they pose as distance learning institutions. Many degree mills claim to be 'accredited' by one or more fictitious 'national' 'international', 'worldwide' or 'global' accrediting agencies. Some degree mill operators have been able to acquire URLs ending in <.edu> that they try to use as proof that they are legitimate academic institutions.

Documents issued by 'universities' with addresses that are office suites or P.O. Box numbers, and whose existence cannot be verified in any authoritative independent publication, should be rejected out-of-hand.

Establishing the existence and status of an institution is the first step in accepting any educational document. If that is done diligently, documents from degree mills are easily detected and eliminated. The most comprehensive list of degree mills can be found at:

The facts on document policies
Institution status, recognition and programs of study
Document authenticity and verification
Countries that issue university documents in English


Preparing for work permit process

By Jadiann Thompson


Thousands in Arizona will be able to apply for work permits after President Obama announced changes to the immigration policy Friday and people in the Valley are trying to get a head start preparing.

CBS 5 News sat down exclusively with two young men in Mesa Saturday to see the process they are going through to apply for the work permits.

19-year-old Manuel Palomino and 23-year-old Rene Mendez did not waste any time.

"It's just a page they opened up yesterday," said Palomino as he showed us how he is staying informed using the ICE web site. "You should take it seriously if it's an opportunity as big as this, take advantage of it and try to do everything right."

"I'm gathering everything I've had since elementary all the way to my two years in community college," said Mendez.

Proof they graduated high school and have no criminal record are just among some of the qualifications they must meet. In addition to collecting their own records, Palomino and Mendez looked up Robert McDonald Jr. with Arizona Notary Services.

"Last night I got a call from Rene and Manuel," said McDonald.

McDonald said he spent hours with attorneys and found a way to draft an affidavit that combines all the qualifications into a one-page document.

McDonald said he does the paperwork and brings the affidavit to your door for $50.

"I act in a very ethical manner and I try to ensure that these affidavits are done in that matter as well," McDonald said.

Palomino and Mendez said they want their proactive work to pay off when the application process opens and want to do everything they can to be prepared.

According to the ICE web page, a hotline will open for questions Monday and the application process will open within 60 days of the date of the announcement.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

U.S. moves on family of Mexico's most-wanted man

— The U.S. Treasury Department has placed financial sanctions on a wife and son of Mexico's most-wanted man, Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin Guzman.

The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said Thursday that it had designated Maria Alejandrina Salazar Hernandez and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar under the U.S. Kingpin Act, which bars American citizens from dealing with them, and allows authorities to freeze their assets in the U.S.

Guzman escaped prison in 2001 and has evaded authorities ever since, moving from hideout to hideout as he directs the operations of a powerful cartel. The U.S. and Mexican government have been intensifying their actions against Guzman's family in recent months, sanctioning relatives in the U.S. and arresting at least two in Mexico.

The Associated Press

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bill To Strengthen Whistleblower Protections Advances In The Senate

Last week the House Oversight Committee reported out the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, a bill that is intended to increase protections for government employees and contractors who “blow the whistle” and disclose illegal or improper government activity.  Among other things, the bill would require intelligence agency heads to advise employees on how to make lawful disclosures of classified information without retribution.

“Whistleblowers are crucial in helping to expose waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement and criminal activity across the Federal government,” the May 30 House Committee report stated. “Their disclosures can save billions of dollars, and even human lives. It is vital that Congress encourage–not discourage–these well-intentioned individuals from coming forward.”

The pending bill would bolster the comparatively flimsy provisions of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.  Establishing improved channels for lawful disclosures of illegal activity could serve to diminish incentives for unauthorized disclosures of classified information, the Committee suggested.

“These modifications are intended to reduce the often destructive disclosures that occur through anonymous leaks by providing an alternative in which institutional channels can be used by whistleblowers assured of certain safeguards,” the report said.

The House Committee did not approve a provision that would have allowed whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation for their actions to request a jury trial.

Last month, the Senate passed its version of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act by unanimous consent.

“Approximately 450 whistleblower cases and around 2,000 complaints about prohibited personnel practices (including engaging in reprisals against whistleblowers) are filed against the federal government each year,” according to a Senate report on the bill.

California faces threat at sea from drug smugglers

 MALIBU, CALIF.--On a starry night in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean north of Los Angeles, a two-man California National Guard special forces surveillance team sets up a sophisticated night scope. Their mission is to search the horizon and the waters below for an increasing number of Mexican drug traffickers offloading multi-ton loads of marijuana, and sometimes illegal immigrants, on remote U.S. beaches.

"These service members are the eyes and ears of federal law enforcement here," said Lt. Kara Siepmann, of the Guard's National Drug program. When asked about what specifically they are looking for, one of the surveillance team members said, "We're looking for blacked out vessels and any suspicious activity we can find, any unusual boats coming through the area."

The soldiers work quietly and in the dark, aware that the Mexican traffickers have their own spotters here watching out for U.S. law enforcement personnel. "They don't want to land where the National Guard or the Border Patrol are looking for them," said Siepmann.

Turning fishing boats into drug boats

In the last few years, law enforcement officials said they have seen a considerable spike in smugglers loading drugs or immigrants onto boats in Mexico's northern Baja Peninsula, then motoring north to offload their illegal cargo along a 300-mile-long stretch of California beaches, sometimes within sight of the many luxury homes on the coastline.

Federal agents said this is the latest smuggling technique employed by Mexico's notorious Sinaloa drug cartel, headed by that country's most-wanted criminal, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The boats are small, open-hulled commercial fishing boats called pangas, which are commonly found in the inshore waters of Mexico and Central America.

With their low profiles, the pangas are hard to spot in open water, but they can carry a large payload. Sometimes these 30- to 40-foot boats will have as many as four outboard engines, allowing them to outrun most vessels used by the authorities.

"The trend is pretty much going straight up," said Lt. Stewart Sibert, the captain of the US Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, which patrols in search of Mexican smugglers near the California coast.

"The past few months have been very busy for us," he said. "We caught more drugs in these past two months than in the past two years."

According to arrest statistics reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or ICE, there were 183 known "events" in fiscal year 2011 along the California coast involving the maritime smuggling of drugs or immigrants, up considerably from the previous three years. During the first seven months of this fiscal year, there have already been 113 such events as the numbers climb even faster than last year.

"We're seeing four and five tons of drugs come in per run and we're seeing dozens of runs. It's almost one or two per week at this point," said Sibert.

A dangerous trade heading north

Law enforcement officials have argued the rise in maritime smuggling is a direct result of their crackdown on smuggling operations along the U.S. land border with Mexico. As they first interdicted smuggling boats headed for beaches in southernmost California, near San Diego, they began to see the traffickers moving farther north to drop off their loads, which are then distributed across the country.

"As we stop them in one area, they’re trying to go around us. We're sort of leapfrogging up the coastline," said Sibert. Recently, an abandoned panga and a hidden marijuana stash were found near San Simeon, Calif., more than 300 miles from the Mexican border.

"They go far out to sea to try to evade interdiction efforts along the border," said Claude Adams, the special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations. "They typically go 100 miles out or farther due west, and then they come north," to reach the U.S. coastline.

While the panga boats are considered relatively stable when used for fishing in calm inshore waters, officials said, they can be quite dangerous in rougher waters offshore, especially if they are overloaded with drugs or illegal immigrants. The boats rarely have adequate safety equipment and authorities speculate that many may have been lost at sea, along with their passengers.

"It's a direct indication of these criminal smuggling organizations' complete disregard for human life. They are driven by profit and nothing else," said Troy Matthews, of the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego. "You'll have somebody driving the ship who is not necessarily highly-trained. You'll have poorly maintained vehicles that will break down and subsequently they are loitering out at sea for days."

A border security threat

As they find more boats on the beaches and make more arrests, U.S. authorities are learning more about how the smuggling operation work, and the degree to which they are coordinated with land-based trafficking operations.

"We've seen some pangas that run directly up onto the beach and upload their cargo," said Sibert. "And then we've seen some that will come in and transfer their load to recreational boats that look less suspicious and try to run them directly into the marinas and yacht clubs."

Many times the panga boat operators will land at night on remote beaches near roads or a highway where they met by other members of the smuggling group. "There's usually an offloading team that will have a rental boxcar, U-Haul, or something of that nature to take the payload and transport it to a stash house where an organization begins the distribution process," said Adams.

A particular concern voiced by many U.S. authorities is the potential national security threat these boats and smugglers represent. "They're just as willing to smuggle perhaps a weapon of mass destruction as they are a load of narcotics," warned Adams. "And they're just as willing to smuggle a terrorist as people coming here to work."

To coordinate their interdiction efforts, federal, state and local law enforcement officials have formed a coastal-area task force. "As they adapt, we will adapt, and they'll continually try to find new ways to get contraband and people into the country, and we're going to be right there nipping at their heels," said Adams.

Authorities conceded, however, that so far they are seeing no let-up in the Mexican maritime smuggling trade, and, in fact, are actually seeing bigger drug loads on boats now than in recent years.

"It's a huge challenge," said Matthews, from the U.S. Border Patrol. "It's an immense geographical area that we have to cover. There is not only single agency that can cover it by itself." (Source: MSNBC)