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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Protect Yourself from Scams During Identity Theft Awareness Week

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In recognition of Identity Theft Awareness Week, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis is providing Floridians with tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft. Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal or financial information – like your Social Security or financial account number – to commit fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were more than 101,000 reports of identity theft in Florida in 2020, making it the most reported category of fraud. CFO Patronis also recently released a consumer alert to warn Floridians to be on the look out for scams while filing their taxes.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Unfortunately, we probably all know a close friend or family member that’s fallen victim to ID theft. When your financial information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be absolutely devastating. As your CFO, I’m committed to fighting fraud and making sure Floridians are aware of the warning signs of identity theft so they can stop a scam before it starts. There are many ways you can protect yourself on a daily basis, from taking precautions while online to checking your credit report periodically. If you’re suspicious of fraud or ID theft, don’t wait until it’s too late, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”

Five Tips to Reduce the Risk of Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

1. Practice Safe Internet Use: Delete spam emails that ask for personal information and keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up to date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check the bottom of your browser for an image of a lock or look for "https" in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information via email.
2. Destroy Private Records: Tear up or shred credit card statements; ATM, credit, or debit card receipts; bank deposit receipts; loan solicitations; and other documents that contain private financial information.
3. Secure Your Mail: Empty your mailbox quickly and get a mailbox lock. When mailing bill payments and checks, consider dropping them off at the post office or a secure mailbox.
4. Be Careful with Your Social Security Number: Your social security number is a major target for identity thieves because it can give them access to your credit report and bank accounts. Never carry your card with you. Instead, memorize your number and keep the card in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box. Never write or print your social security number on checks.
5. Check Your Credit Report: At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity. You can request a free copy of your report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by contacting any one of the three major credit reporting agencies.