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
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
Florida Department of Law
Office of Domestic Security