TALLAHASSEE – The state’s chief financial officer on Monday cautioned Floridians about a major rise in fraud losses across the nation and offered tips to prevent scams.
According to a news release from CFO Jimmy Patronis, which cited data from the Federal Trade Commission, fraud losses spiked 70% in 2021 compared to 2020. It cost American consumers more than $5.8 billion nationwide.
The FTC got more than 156,000 reports from Floridians last year -- and identity theft was the most commonly reported fraud category.
“Last year, Florida ranked fifth in fraud reports nationwide, costing Floridians an estimated $331.3 million. Every day, fraudsters are looking for new and creative ways to steal your money and identity. Many scams can be prevented by doing your research, navigating to only reputable websites, and refusing to share your personal information,” Patronis said in a prepared statement.
If you are suspicious of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.
Patronis shared four tips from Consumer Reports:
- If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Is. Scammers often urge you to act immediately. If you take some time to think about the message or offer you’ve received before acting on it, you may be able to sidestep a scam.
- Don’t Respond. Ignore texts, emails, and social media messages if you’re unsure about who the sender or it seems suspicious. Contact the sender who the message might be mimicking to confirm whether the message or email is real. Never give your personal or financial info to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.
- Check Before You Click. Don’t click on links in email and texts if you have any uncertainty; some may put your device’s security in jeopardy. Hovering your mouse over a link in an email will reveal the entire URL, which may help you determine if it’s fraudulent. Case in point: An “.ru” at the end of a URL means the link you thought was to a local retailer was created in Russia.
- Pay Wisely. Use your credit card for online purchases. Also, only use payment methods like Cash App, Venmo, and Zelle with people you know and trust.