Kingston Tax Service computers stolen Aug. 12; clients at risk for ID theft

August 19, 2008

By Kelly Joines

Immediate action is necessary on behalf of all Kingston Tax Service clients to protect themselves from identity theft.

Office computers were stolen from the business in a reported burglary sometime before 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 12.

"On each of the computers is information which can be used by identity thieves," states a letter sent to clients of Kingston Tax Services.

The letter, written by owner Tim Winsor the day the robbery report was filed, urges clients to put fraud alerts on their credit cards "immediately."

Although the information was password protected, Winsor states they aren't foolproof. He advises clients need to call banks, credit card companies, the Social Security Administration and three credit bureau fraud departments: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

According to Kitsap County Sheriff reports, Winsor believes he saw his computer for sale on on Aug. 14, two days after the burglary.

The computer he suspects was his was listed without its hard drive. He couldn't positively identify the computer because photos of the computer.s serial number were blurred, the report states.

Winslow advises his clients in the letter: "Be prepared to make a call for each member of your family who was reported on any income tax return in the last eight years. ... I urge you for your own protection to make the phone calls to the agencies and bureaus above RIGHT NOW."

Kitsap County Sheriff spokesman Scott Wilson said in his experience working with law enforcement, identity theft happens "in a matter of minutes."

Typically, he said, thieves know there is a small window of opportunity to use the information gleaned off hard drives. After the burglary is known, the window of time closes as more people are notified and put fraud alerts on their cards.

"They (identity thieves) know it's time sensitive," Wilson said. "I've seen really good crooks turn around and use that information in a matter of minutes."

Kingston resident and Kingston Tax Services client Karen Ross received one of the letters in the mail Monday and is concerned clients of the service weren't notified earlier.

"We should've known right away. This was six days ago," Ross said in regards to the burglary. "I'm going to do what they say and going to go to a phone and call all of (Credit Bureau Fraud Departments) right now," Ross said.

Winsor was not available to comment on the theft before press time.

Attempts to contact him resulted in a company answering service stating if clients are calling in regards to a letter received, it contains all the information known at present.

"Right now we are focusing on replacing our computer system,."the message states.

Because of the burglary, the message also states that filing some deadlines were missed.

According to a report filed by Kitsap County Sheriff deputies, two flat-screen monitors and a silver Hewlett Packard laptop were stolen along, with an autographed George Brett baseball from Winsor's rear office.

The building - currently in the middle of a remodel - was broken into after thieves broke a pane of glass located next to the door knob.

Multiple foot prints were seen outside of the door and it appeared someone tried kicking the door in before breaking the glass, according to the report.

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