Last year, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office dealt with 200,000 calls and handled 45,000 consumer complaints.
As a result, his office recovered about $5 million for Florida residents. That’s why he wants Floridians to be aware of all the scams being perpetuated and find ways to protect themselves. Putnam’s office is using National Consumer Protection Week, March 1-7, to educate the masses.
“Unfortunately, people continue to fall for all of the old tricks as well as the constant wave of new tricks,” Putnam said. The week, he said, “is intended to highlight the tools and the resources available to give people a better defense against having their identity stolen, falling victim to some kind of fraud or other scam.” The threats run the gamut, Putnam said.
The top complaints his office receives are for violations of the Do Not Call list, a database of numbers solicitors and sales people cannot call. A fee for that service has been eliminated.
“On the potentially devastating side of the scam sheet would be the continued proliferation of skimmers being placed on gas pumps that is being used to steal people’s credit card information,” Putnam said.
He mentioned a recent Tallahassee ruse involving a person calling an unsuspecting victim to tell them their utility bill is past due. The scammer then asks the person to pay the money with a prepaid card.
“That scam is pervasive and it has a thousand different colors to it,” Putnam said. “But it’s the same basic bottom line, which is persuading someone to give away sensitive information over the telephone.”
People stealing the identity of children also is a problem. Residents can protect their children by freezing their credit with the Keeping I.D. Safe Act.
People also should safeguard personal documents. “If you don’t have a shredder at least rip it up, pour your coffee grounds on top of it in the trash,” he said.
Residents also should make sure they’re donating to legitimate charities by checking with the department’s Gift Givers’ Guide.
Original article here.