State officials say to watch out for identity theft scammers

Financial fraud tops con game angle

Those high-energy,"good news" robocalls announcing you have won a free trip or cruise may be
a trap to steal your personal information.

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation issued a consumer alert this month to make sure local
consumers don’t become victims of a new wave of identity theft.

Jamie Mongiovi, of the Office of Financial Regulation, told WKMG News 6 that Floridians need to be “proactive and avoid risky behaviors that can make you vulnerable to identity theft.”

In March, the Federal Trade Commission had already calculated a surge in ID theft complaints that was up 47 percent over last year.

Much of that is linked to financial fraud.

U.S News and World Report put it best when they wrote, ”A day does not go by without headlines about financial fraud.”

The phone scams are designed to make you let down your guard, so the office wants residents to remember to never give out personal information over the phone or email.

“Telephone scams and credit card scams ... are common ways that they get your personal information," Mongiovi said, "and once they have it, they may try to apply for a loan or a credit card in your name or even file taxes.”

The Office of Financial Regulation offers these tips:

• Never give personal information over the phone or through email, especially if the contact was unsolicited.

• Don’t click on links in emails asking you to verify or provide personal information. If you are concerned, call the phone number listed on your account statement or the back of your credit card.

•Shred any documents that contain personal, identifying information, including credit card offers and preapprovals as well as address information on magazines and other publications.

Check your credit report annually for inaccuracies or inconsistencies, and contact the three national credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and Trans Union-- if you spot problems.

If you believe you are a victim of financial fraud or to report suspicious financial activity, please file a complaint with the Office of Financial Regulation online,at www.flofr.com, or call (850) 487-9687.

About the Author: