This week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to raise awareness of consumer fraud during Identity Theft Awareness Week.
“The challenges of COVID-19 include a heightened risk of identity theft. Scammers, thieves, and imposters are taking advantage of vulnerabilities brought on from unemployment claims, government-sponsored small business loan programs, and other forms of identity theft,” said Fried. “Along with the Federal Trade Commission, our Division of Consumer Services is here to help keep you protected by providing tips and resources that reduce your risk of falling victim.”
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but there are things consumers can do to reduce risk. The FTC and its partners will host free webinars and other events throughout Identity Theft Awareness Week, including a webinar with the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and a Facebook Live event where experts from the AARP Fraud Watch Network will take questions. Consumer tips will include what you can do to protect your personal information, red-flag warning signs of possible identity theft, and what to do if identity theft happens to you. The schedule of events can be found at FTC.gov/IDTheftWeek.
According to Fried and the FDACS Division of Consumer Services, here are some top tips to avoid identity theft:
- Protect your Social Security number throughout the year, and don’t give it out unless there’s a good reason and you’re sure about who receives it.
- Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often, know your payment due dates, and make sure you receive the bills you’re expecting.
- Read your health insurance plan statements, and make sure the claims paid match the care you received.
- Shred any documents with personal identifying information.
- Check your credit report at least once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, and make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.
What can Florida consumers do? Consumers can call the FDACS Division of Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-FL-AYUDA en español) or visit FloridaConsumerHelp.com to report potential fraud or access helpful resources to ensure the security of your financial identity.
Need more tips and tools? The Federal Trade Commission is a partner agency to FDACS at the federal level and also has helpful consumer information on how to avoid scams. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft to the FTC and get a personal recovery plan.