Security Breach P.F. Changs Hits Two San Diego Locations

Identity Theft CITRMS Sheri PainterVicky Sharamito said identity theft has been on her mind an awful lot this year.

“I was part of the Target one; I’ve had more debit cards reissued this year than I have in my whole life,” Sharamito said, half jokingly.

A P.F. Chang’s regular, Sharamito said she was aware of the security breach just weeks ago, during her last visit.

“They were running the credit card by hand,” Sharamito explained.

However, it’s not stopping her from coming to one of her favorite spots in Chula Vista.

“I think I’m just so used to it by now,” Sharamito laughed.

However, not everyone sees things as harmless as Sharamito. A man who spoke with San Diego 6 off camera quickly ran back into his car after he learned of the security breach for the first time. Another woman who was packing her to-go order in her car said she received an email from the restaurant and was well aware of the issue.

According to the Chinese food chain, the issue is contained and was initially brought to their attention last month by the United States Secret Service.

In part, a statement issued by P.F. Chang’s CEO, Rick Federico, confirmed “we have determined that the security of our card processing systems was compromised, and we have reason to believe that the intruder may have stolen some data from certain credit and debit cards that were used during specified time frames at 33 P.F. Chang’s China Bistro branded restaurant locations in the continental United States.”

From October to June, 33 of their 200 locations fell victim to the scam; this includes Chula Vista, Carlsbad, Temecula, and Newport Beach.

Cheryl Reichert, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in San Diego said large corporations can still easily be affected by these scams, despite newer, state of the art security systems.

Reichert said the scammers have reportedly called some of the victims, pretending to be from P.F. Chang’s. Once they read off their credit card information, they’re asking victims to verify the three digit code on the back of their card, something Reichert strongly cautions against.

“In the case of restaurants, keep your receipt and check the charge against the receipt because if you don’t notice P.F. Chang’s is on there twice that might be something a bad guy can slip through pretty easily,” Reichert explained.

It’s something some say they’re adamant about now, especially after what they endured with Target’s security breach.

“I’m very careful; I read you shouldn’t purchase on one computer and check my balance on a different computer,” said a P.F. Chang’s regular, who did not wish to reveal her name. However, she did say she’ll continue to eat at P.F. Chang’s, but will start paying in cash.

Reichert advised people to take advantage of the annual free credit report, and also encouraged consumers to look at their credit card statement before paying the bill.

If you think your credit or debit card was compromised in part of the security breach, you can call 1-877-412-7152 to speak with a representative.

For more information, click here: By Natasha Sweatte-Story Published: Aug 4, 2014 at 10:52 PM PDT

Photobucket Sheri Painter CITRMS

Know Your Rights – Defective Tires Caused Your Wreck?

Sheri CITRMS Know your rightsDefective tires cause many auto accidents. Blowouts can come at unexpected times in tires that have manufacturing defects, but there are also many vehicle owners who drive until the tire tread is nearly gone. Both scenarios can result in rubber separation or a blown sidewall, which clearly creates a dangerous situation for all drivers on the road. Individual car owners are required by law to maintain their vehicle to proper safety standards, and staying aware of deteriorating tires is part of that responsibility. There still are also a few other things to consider with an accident.

Multiple Defendants
Identifying multiple negligent parties is a major reason to retain an experienced auto accident attorney, as the novice injured auto accident victim may not understand all potentially liable parties. Not only could the vehicle owner be liable if they are involved in an accident caused by inadequate tires, but tires that are provably defective may also include the manufacturer as a co-defendant.

In addition, legal cases resulting from accidents where the tires were installed improperly or the retailer suggests maintenance practices that are counter to manufacturer recommendations can also result in the retailer being a co-defendant.

Multiple Plaintiffs
Any individual involved in an accident resulting from defective tires may also sue the manufacturer or retailer in some accident cases. The accident may still be the fault of one party, but that party may also sue if the tires were bought defective, especially if they are still under warranty.

Previous lawsuits resulting from the same defect can help as documentation that the problem already existed. Recall service records can also be important. The liable party’s auto insurance company should cover the accident compensatory claims, but anyone involved may sue if the flaws in manufacturing or servicing can be proven.

Proving the Case
Just as in any other civil tort case, it is the duty of the plaintiff attorney to prosecute, or prove, that the accident was a direct result of defective tires on the respondent’s vehicle. This can be difficult sometimes, but inspecting the tires after the accident can be supplied as evidence. In addition, any service records prior to the accident can help as documentation.

However, the burden of proof requires there be an actual existing injury, supported by pictures or medical records, and the injury must be the direct result of the respondent’s negligence. Every product liability or retailer neglect would be an addendum to the case. Product liability negligence can also include the amount of time tires are stored in a warehouse, as the tire composition deteriorates over time, so negligence is not necessarily traditional in defect tire lawsuits.

Personal injury and property damage lawsuits can be difficult to prove in many cases, but the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence according to the totality of the circumstances. This is a lower threshold than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is used in criminal prosecutions. Punitive damages against manufacturers can also be reduced by the court, even if the jury awards a huge punitive damage award.

It is vital to retain an effective auto accident attorney who is experienced in product liability cases concerning auto equipment, and one who is willing to take the case to trial if necessary. Having solid representation against the possible multiple legal teams can be the difference in maximizing an equitable case settlement. It’s also important to know about tire recalls, and according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can even subscribe to NHTSA’s e-mail alert service, which immediately alerts you if there is a one.

Posted by Holly Chavez
June 30, 2014 11:59 AM

Know your rights for disability claims

Combat veteran disability claimMany veterans fail to file a claim for a disability because they are not aware they can or they feel their disability would not apply.

Disabilities do not need to be combat- or even work-related; they can be the result of such things as illnesses, sports injuries, injuries from unit PT, or car accidents on leave.

Any veteran with a current health problem they believe began as a result of their active duty should consider filing a claim with the Veterans Administration. Of course, the VA will not entertain the idea of a disability from a common cold or a sprain. Common sense must apply.

For those veterans already receiving VA disability for service-connected conditions, be aware that disabilities seldom improve over time; they normally worsen. If a veteran who is service-connected for a disability feels their disability has gotten worse, they should apply to the VA for a re-evaluation of their disability level.

Veterans who think they might have a disability caused by their service, or who feel that their already service-connected disability has worsened, are strongly encouraged to contact our office to inquire about this important benefit. We will be able to more fully explain the claims process, and will complete all the necessary paperwork for submission to Veteran Affairs.

For information on disability claims any other veteran benefits, please don’t hesitate to contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 or your local Veterans Services Office at 704-216-8139.

Rick Johnson is Rowan County veterans services officer. Fore more information, contact him at 704-216-8139 or go online to

By Rick Johnson Special to the Post
Posted: Saturday, July 19, 2014 12:51 a.m.

Travel rights you may not know you have

LegalShield Independent Associate SleepingPHOENIX — If the skies aren’t so friendly the next time you fly, make sure you know your rights.

Attorney Stephanie Fierro with Scottsdale-based Frutkin Law Firm said that if the airline bumps you from your flight, you may be entitled to lots of cash.

“If they can get you to your final destination within one to two hours of your original arrival time, you are still entitled to 200 percent of your ticket value, up to $250,” said Fierro.

If the delay lasts more than 2 hours, “they will have to give you up to 400 percent of your ticket value, up to $1,300.”

It’s also important to know how to complain.

“Be professional, be courteous, and be reasonable,” she said. “Follow the normal procedures, assuming that you’ll get somewhere.”

She also said you can get cash if they lose your bags. She advised travelers to keep track of all their original travel documents, as well as receipts for anything you’ve been inconvenienced for.

“If your luggage was lost, for example, and you need to buy things because you can’t wait for them to arrive, then you need to keep receipts to be able to prove your expenses,” Fierro explained.
By Jeremy Foster
Originally published: Jul 4, 2014 – 5:00 am


Identity theft report: At least 368 data breaches reported this year

ID Theft Sheri Painter CITRMS

There were 368 data breaches so far this year throughout the United States, of which 46.5%, or 171, were in the health care/medical sector, says the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, in a report issued Tuesday.

But these health care breaches accounted for only 16.7% of total compromised records, according to the San Diego-based center. The business sector, with 32.9% of the breaches, represented nearly 60% of the compromised records, according to the center.

Government/military ranked third on the list, accounting for 11.1% of the overall breaches and 14.3% of the compromised records, according to the center, whose list of data breaches is a compilation confirmed by various media sources and/or notification lists from state governmental agencies.

Montana officials said Tuesday that 1.3 million people will be notified regarding an incident where hackers gained entry to a Department of Public Health and Human Services computer server, although there is no knowledge that information on the server was used inappropriately or accessed.|338|299|339|340|255|303
Judy Greenwald – June 25, 2014 – 4:55pm


Protect our children from ID thefts

As identity theft has surged in recent years, more of the victims have been children. But a growing number of states are pushing back.

Take Wisconsin, where lawmakers recently approved legislation known as the Child Credit Protection Act. The law is designed to make sure that a child’s personal information cannot be used to open a credit account until he or she is at least 16 years old.

LegalShield Identity Theft for Kids

Under the act, parents can pay a $10 fee to each of the three main nationwide credit bureaus – Equifax, Trans Union and Experian – to create a credit record for a child. The agencies will instantaneously create a security freeze on the account to prevent identity thieves from opening credit accounts in the child’s name. Once the child turns 16, parents can request that the account be unlocked.

Wisconsin joins seven states that have passed similar laws, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Several other states, including Texas, are considering legislation.

The legislative momentum started in Maryland in 2012, when it became the first state to create a law to help parents protect their children from identity theft.

Supporters say the state laws are needed because children have become increasingly vulnerable to identity fraud and the credit bureaus have not been proactive enough.

Crooks know that a child will not be applying for credit cards or taking out loans for years, which creates a large window of opportunity for abuse. Moreover, parents don’t expect their child to have a credit file, and as a result, don’t request to check it for possible illegal activity.

Young victims might not feel the pinch until they apply for a credit card, a home mortgage, or car or student loans.

Recent studies have revealed the scope of identity theft crimes on minors.

A 2011 Carnegie Mellon University study – based on a review of more the credit files of more than 40,000 children – found that 10.2 percent of children under the age of 18 had their Social Security number compromised. That percentage is dramatically higher than the 0.2 percent rate for adults in the study.

Indeed, Social Security numbers are the most common form of child identity theft, Sadly, trusted friends or family members frequently commit the fraud, and the crimes often take a year to detect and resolve.

Since the state laws are in their infancy, there’s no evidence yet of any impact. But “we’re a friend of any legislation that helps to give tools” to parents to protect a child’s identity, said Eva Velasquez, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

While most states have followed Maryland’s approach of freezing credit accounts, Utah devised a slightly different model. Through a partnership with Trans Union, parents can enroll children up to age 16 in its identity protection program. The information will be entered into a high-risk fraud database, which will trigger a security alert when illegal activity is detected.

And if you don’t live in a state that provides legal protections, there are other options.

Several protection services have cropped up in recent years. They typically charge a monthly fee to monitor your credit accounts. In addition, a free service called ChildScan is offered by It combs through credit records, employment records, criminal records and other accounts to determine if a criminal has been using your youngster’s Social Security number.

Despite the security safeguards, no system is truly foolproof. Seemingly every week, there’s ample evidence that cybercriminals remain one step ahead of those trying to stop them.

Still, parents can do a lot to protect the personal information of their children. Keep their Social Security card, birth certificate and other important documents safely locked up. Also, don’t let kids carry their own Social Security card. And talk to your kids about safe online habits, such as passwords and limiting the amount of personal information shared on the Internet.

For more tips, check out the Identity Theft Assistance Center website at

What else can parents do? Prod your state representative to provide protection from identity criminals. As Velasquez said, “This is a no-brainer. Who doesn’t want to protect children?”

By STEVE ROSEN – The Kansas City StarJune 9, 2014


Fast-rising medical ID theft hits employers hard

[column]Medical ID Theft LegalShield[/column]
About the last thing companies dealing with the complexities of implementing Obamacare need right now is to have the security of their employees’ medical information compromised. However, statistics show that is exactly what is happening.
“Medical identity theft is a rapidly spreading malady, often by organized-crime rings,” said James Quiggle, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a nonprofit alliance of carriers, consumer groups and government agencies in Washington, D.C. ”Data breaches in this era of digital record-keeping can drain businesses and make employee records as vulnerable as patients.”
More than 1.8 million Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2013, a crime that is increasing at an annual rate of 32 percent. This makes it the fastest-growing type of identity theft, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

Medical ID theft is already a multibillion-dollar industry. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, the federal government alone recovered a record $4.3 billion from people and companies that attempted to defraud health-care programs, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stealing enough personal information to purchase services or devices is not difficult for a sophisticated identity thief, said Drew Smith, founder and CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based InfoArmor. His company has provided B-to-B clients with protection against various types of ID theft since 2007.

“You can go online and readily purchase someone’s basic identity information for about $50,” he said. “You usually don’t need a lot of identification to receive medical care. Most identity thieves are not using it for primary care. It’s going for things such as medical devices, prescription drugs or other areas where there is less likely to be a personal relationship with the provider.”[/column]

[column]medical id theft red LegalShield Independent Associate Scott Painter
Hidden employer costs

Statistics rarely account for the hidden cost of lost productivity when an employee has been victimized. Dealing with the fallout can be a painstaking, time-consuming process. The average medical identity theft loss is $22,346 – six times higher than financial identity theft. Also, on average, it takes victims more than a year to clear up medical records and repair any damage to their credit.

Fast-rising medical ID theft hits employers hard

By Alan Goforth

May 22, 2014 • Reprints
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“Employees have to deal with identity theft issues immediately, which requires time off work and lost productivity, because some banks and agencies may be open only on work days,” Smith said. “Most medical ID thefts go undetected for a year. It’s not like credit card fraud, where you usually are notified quickly if someone tries to use a stolen card. Because of the way medical records are stored, they are extremely fragmented and hard to fix when you find out. That’s why reducing the risk of medical identification theft can help a business’s bottom line.”

Employers may be surprised to learn that medical identity theft may be as likely to occur from within their organization as from outside.

“Fifty percent of medical ID claims are considered `friendly fraud’,” Smith said. “For example, an employee’s brother may be out of work and they allow him to use their insurance card, or a family member borrows it without permission.”

Best defenses

Although eliminating medical ID theft may be impossible, businesses do have effective options to significantly reduce risks and quickly detect breaches. “Managers must implant internal controls and train employees to harden their protection of personal data,” Quiggle said. “Protocols to protect against insider theft are especially important.”

One of the most successful defenses costs nothing to implement.

“The No. 1 thing to emphasize with employees is to be smart about their user names and passwords,” Smith said. “Many people use the same ones for multiple sites, such as health care, banking and payroll information. Identity thieves are pretty adept at stealing credentials and often use them to steal from more than one account.”

Early notification of security breaches also is critical. “Timeliness is key,” he said. “Most explanations of insurance benefits don’t come for 30 to 90 days, but we can provide real-time alerts.”

Companies such as InfoArmor can provide several levels of protection. “The entry level (service) is monitoring personal and insurance carrier information,” Smith said. “We can alert employees daily to a potential compromise of their information online.”

The next level is to search the Internet and other networks for employees’ potentially exposed medical information that may be bought or sold. InfoArmor’s service providers also evaluate medical professionals who submit claims.

“We are able to do scoring behind the scenes to identify doctors with a record of fraudulent claims who may present a high risk,” Smith said. “Finding these fraudulent doctors often is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but we can help make the haystack much smaller.”

InfoArmor is testing a new service that it calls ID Verification,which uses information from dozens of public record databases to enable providers to confirm a patient’s identity before services are administered.

“The newest services are the most employee-focused,” Smith said. “We can determine which employees have a greater inherent risk and monitor their claims data daily. We look for certain flags, such as care being received farther from home, durable medical equipment being purchased in their name or a high volume of paperwork over a short period of time. We then can issue an alert. And we are careful to do everything in a HIPPA-compliant manner.”

Smith said it is still too early to judge the potential impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the incidence of medical identity theft. But for employers seeking ways to reduce medical identity them and its repercussions on employees, the best offense is a good defense.

“Don’t believe people who try to tell you they can prevent identity theft, because they probably are lying,” he said. “Because theft is not going away, the solution is to detect digital crimes faster.”

By Alan Goforth May 22, 2014

ID thieves file your tax return, get your refund

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Instead of a refund check, many Americans are getting bad news from the IRS — that someone else has already collected their money. It’s part of a growing scam where thieves steal your identity, file for your taxes and take your refund. You file your tax refund and surprise — the IRS informs you someone else already filed under your Social Security number and got a huge refund.

San Diego, California Talk Radio Station – 760 KFMB AM – 760kfmb “Unfortunately, a Social Security number is really the Holy Grail and they can commit all types of identity theft,” Eva Velasquez of the Identity Theft Resource Center said. Velasquez says this is a huge, expensive problem. The IRS confirms identity thieves stole $4 billion in bogus tax returns in 2012. “And that’s what we know of,” she said. The IRS says it’s trying to become proactive, programming its computers to catch red flags before a refund is sent. “It’s become a complete top priority in terms of resources, putting employees there, putting all the screens and detectors and IT we have in place to try and prevent it, slow it down, detect it,” IRS spokesman Raphael Tulino said. The IRS says it caught $12 billion worth of fraudulent refunds last year before sending out money, but the thieves are tricky, creating bogus W-2s and maximizing deductions to get large, under-the-radar returns. In fact, last year, over one million bogus refunds still went out, including 655 to a single address in Lithuania and 580 to an address in Orlando. “The best way to protect yourself is to file first and beat the crooks,” Velasquez said. Velasquez says the problem is that the IRS can only do so much when it comes to looking for potential red flags in a tax return. “The IRS gets a snapshot of you once a year, and during that time frame things change — people move, they change jobs, babies are born, there are divorces,” she said. The IRS says victims will get their money – eventually — but definitely a lot later than someone who hasn’t had their identity stolen. “These cases take time. They can take several weeks, three to four months to untangle what’s been done. Unfortunately, they’re complex,” Tulino said. And while you’re working to clear up the mess, the thieves are most likely one step ahead, plotting their next scam. “Unfortunately, once you’ve been a victim of one type of ID theft, there really are no guarantees or protections you can put in place to stop the thieves from using the information in other areas,” Velasquez said. If you’re a victim of this crime or any other identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center. It’s a nonprofit that will help you for free. Posted: Apr 24, 2014 6:09 AM AST Updated: Apr 24, 2014 7:36 AM AST Photobucket

Know your rights when the debt collector comes calling

Whether through a home mortgage, automotive loan or credit card, debt is something nearly every working adult deals with at some point.

Sometimes debt accumulates, payments are missed and a collector comes knocking.
Know your rights debt collection legalshield
If those collectors do show up, consumers should know their rights and the protections provided by state and federal laws, according to the Kentucky Collectors Association.

April is National Financial Literacy month, and in conjunction, the association has issued tips to assist Kentucky consumers:

Consumers are protected under state and federal laws, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act. Additional resources are available here.
Dodging or ignoring a creditor will not make the debt go away. Communication is critical to finding a consumer-friendly solution to debt or credit issues.
By law, a debt collector may not provide information about the existence of a debt to anyone other than the consumer or the consumer’s attorney. Therefore, collectors must confirm the consumer’s identity before discussing the specifics of an account.
Consumers have the right to dispute a debt’s validity.
Active military personnel have special protections under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which allows them to suspend or postpone certain civil obligations.
Braden Lammers – Apr 3, 2014, 10:37am EDT
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Know your rights if your mortgage is sold

Q: My mortgage was sold twice, ending up with an out-of-state lender. That is when the problems started. It paid our insurance from escrow when we are escrow waived and have been for 24 years. Then they dropped my wife’s name from the account and have even sent us a default notice. All of these are “keystroke” errors as they told us. On top of that, they have the worst customer service I have ever seen. I never asked for this company; we were sold to them.

Is there a way to get out from under this company other then a refinance that will cost a lot of money? Do borrowers have any rights in where the mortgage ends up?

A: Unfortunately, you have no choice what your initial lender will do with your loan. Most mortgage lenders are not loaded with cash, so to make more loans, they have to sell their loans. In many cases, that lender will continue to service the loan. This means that you will continue to make your payments to that lender. However, many loans are sold to third parties — could be to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or could be to one of the syndicates we have heard so much about during the mortgage meltdown.

But if your lender or the servicer of your loan is making mistakes, you have certain rights. Make sure any mistake does not affect your credit rating.

LegalShield Mortgage

You can also file complaints against your lender. At the federal level, contact the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve Board. In your state, complain to the attorney general.

If your current loan carries a high interest rate, you can refinance.

Q: We have owned a condo for 21 years. We would like to sell it for about $310,000 and buy another condo. First, we will buy the new condo, and than we will sell our existing condo as soon as we can. Both condos are for our residence only, not for rent. We do not want to lose $500,000 in exclusion taxes. Both properties are joint husband and wife. Can we do a Starker exchange?

A: A Starker exchange, also known as a like-kind (or Section 1031) exchange, is only applicable for investment properties. But if you and your wife have owned and used your condominium for two out of the last five years before it is sold, you can take advantage of the up-to-$500,000 exclusion of gain. This is known as the use-and-ownership test.

Note that I used the words “up to.” This does not mean when you sell your principal house and meet the use-and-ownership test, you can exclude $500,000 from your income tax. You can only exclude your profit, no more, no less. I suspect you can sell your condo, keep all of the net proceeds and invest that in another unit.

Q: Can you explain what the words “fee simple” mean?

A: Your question brought back memories of my real estate property course when I was in law school. Oversimplified, the property owner who has title in “fee simple” has absolute ownership. It is the highest form of ownership; you can sell it, rent it or mortgage it.

The word comes from our common law. In older days in England, the king was the supreme owner of property. He gave property to his knights, which was known as a “fief.” So when the property was conveyed, it was called an “estate in fee simple.”

I can own my home in fee simple, but not my condo unit. That is because a condo owner does not own the land, the fief. A condo association also does not own the land. Every condo owner owns his or her percentage interest in the land.

Benny L. Kass Housing Counsel – 9:58 p.m. CDT, April 4, 2014,0,57401.column
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