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CFO Jimmy Patronis: 5 Military Consumer Protection Tips

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In recognition of July as Military Consumer Protection Month, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis offers tips to the over 1.5 million Florida veterans and more than 65,000 active duty servicemembers who call Florida home. Currently, Florida ranks first in fraud and fourth in identity theft nationwide, and members of the military are often targets of specific scams and fraud tactics.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Florida is a top state for fraud and scams nationwide and unfortunately some scam tactics specifically target veterans and servicemembers as they defend our country. We must work to protect our men and women in uniform as they so bravely serve to protect us. Always stay on guard to avoid becoming a victim of scams by consistently monitoring your credit report and reporting signs of fraud immediately. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

5 Military Consumer Protection Tips

1. Watch out for predatory lending practices - The Military Lending Act is a law meant to protect active-duty servicemembers and their covered dependents from predatory lending practices. It established an interest rate cap of 36% on most consumer loans to service members and provides other financial protections.

2. Beware of phone scams - Telephone scams may come through phone calls from real people, robocalls, or text messages. The callers often make false promises, such as opportunities to buy products, to invest your money, or receive free product trials. Some scammers may even threaten you with jail time or lawsuits if you don’t pay them.

3. Know who you’re dealing with - In any financial transaction, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on the company's website to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

4. Closely monitor your credit reports - If you’re deploying soon, it is recommended that you put an active duty alert on your credit report. Monitor your bank and credit card statements for fraud and report it immediately. You're entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months and starting October 31, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires nationwide consumer reporting agencies (“NCRAs”) to provide a free electronic credit monitoring service to active duty military consumers.

5. Act quickly if your identity is stolen - Contact the companies or businesses where you know your information was fraudulently used and freeze your accounts. Alert your banks to freeze your accounts as well and alert the authorities so an investigation can be opened. Lastly, notify your commanding officer, so they know what to do if they receive calls about your case.
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