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Florida Attorney General Consumer Alert from BusinesSafe

TALLAHASSEE, FL – On October 21, 2008, Attorney General Bill McCollum announced the beginning of National Protect Your Identity Week and encouraged Floridians to be proactive to avoid identity theft. National Protect Your Identity Week takes place from October 19-25 this year and is designed to bring ID theft awareness and prevention programs to consumers in communities across the country. Florida ranked fifth in the nation last year for the number of identity theft complaints, with more than 19,000 reported incidents.

 "Floridians need to stay alert and aggressive when it comes to preventing identity theft," said Attorney General McCollum. "Scammers are getting very clever and tech-savvy, but with education and awareness we can fight this crime."

One of the more common forms of computer-related identity theft is "phishing," which occurs when a third party pretends to be a reputable web service and convinces consumers to enter their personal identification information. Often "phishers" will send emails pretending to be a consumer’s bank and ask to verify account information to help protect against the very scam they plan to perpetuate, identity theft. Once the consumer enters his or her account numbers, the scammer has all the information necessary to engage in costly and devastating identity theft. 

 A new twist on this scam was recently reported by the Federal Trade Commission, which encouraged consumers to be wary of emails that look as if they come from financial institutions that recently acquired consumers’ banks, savings and loans or mortgages. Attorney General McCollum reminded consumers that banks will not email their customers and ask for information over the internet. Consumers should never email their information back but should contact their bank directly if they have questions or concerns.

Consumers who believe they may be victims of identity theft or fraud may contact the Attorney General's fraud hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or file a complaint online at http://myfloridalegal.com. Information about identity theft, tips to protect individuals, and recovery information is available online at: http://myfloridalegal.com/identitytheft.

 For additional information about Identity Crime visit the International Association of Chiefs of Police website located at www.idsafety.org/ or the Secure Florida website located at http://www.secureflorida.org/personalsecurity/identity_theft/.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 
Office of Domestic Security

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