MILTON — Identity theft and fraud is an all-too-common problem. Everyday people fall victim to this criminal act and most times they are unaware until it is too late.
According a data breach report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, between Jan. 1, 2005 and Sept. 30 2018, there have been 9,463 record breaches, including breaches of big companies like Sears, Best Buy and Delta, and over one billion records exposed.
According to a study done by www.Wallethub.com, Florida ranks second for identity theft and fraud in the nation with an overall score of 69 percent.
Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Sergeant Rich Aloy said the problem does not escape the county either.
“We received a large amount of calls related to telephone fraud,” Aloy said. “It seems like every other call on a telephone is a solicitor — most are a scam or robocalls.”
Aloy said that the SRSO even gets scamming calls directly to the office.
“The best defense to this type of fraud is simply to hang up the phone,” he said. “As annoying as it is, arguing back resolves absolutely nothing. Citizens are urged to report scams to FTC.GOV. That’s a federal agency responsible for investigating these types of issues.”
Local law enforcement often finds it difficult to investigate cases of fraud because of jurisdictional boundaries Aloy said.
“Most ask for credit card numbers or ask you to send Green Dot cards from Walmart or gift cards from other businesses,” he said.
Aloy said that is a, “red flag.” In some instances, Aloy said, people will be told that they will be arrested if they do not pay a fine over the phone.
Be aware of the most common types of fraud:Lower credit card interest rate Vehicle warrantee is expiring Warrant for your arrest from Law Enforcement Missed jury duty and you are soon to have a warrant IRS scam where you owe money
Here are some ways to avoid potential scamming:Emphasize email security. Sign up for credit monitoring. Don’t open emails you don’t recognize. Don’t download files from untrustworthy sources. Don’t send account numbers and passwords via email or messenger applications. Don’t enter financial or personal information into websites that lack the “https” prefix in their URLs.
For more information on identity theft or fraud, or ways to protect yourself, you can go to www.consumer.ftc.gov or https://www.identitytheft.gov/warning-signs-of-identity-theft.