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  • Florida Realtors Warned About Identity Theft Scam

    Posted on October 10th, 2012 admin No comments

    Thousands of Florida Realtors and other professionals with state licenses are being warned of a “very official”-looking identity theft scam that lures potential victims with threats of disciplinary action.

    The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates professions ranging from contractors to cosmetologists, began getting complaints about the scam last week.

    Sandi Poreda, communications director for the department, said license holders are getting e-mails that look like they are from the department and claim there are disciplinary actions pending against the recipient. The license holder is directed to call a “department investigator” at a toll-free number where they are asked for personal data such as drivers license information and social security numbers.

    “It looks very official,” Poreda said about the e-mail, which is being investigated by the department. “They copied the banner on our website and created an e-mail signature that looks very much like ours.”

    While Realtors submitted the initial complaints about the scam, Poreda said the department doesn’t know how people are being targeted and therefore are notifying all of their license holders.

    Officials fear the scam could be more effective than a typical e-mail solicitation because the department does contact licenses holders through e-mail about disciplinary issues. But Poreda said an official notice is typically also sent via regular mail.

    “It’s important for people to know that this contact is not coming from us,” she said.

    Anyone who gets a suspicious warning of disciplinary action from the department is being asked to call 850-487-1395 and report it to law enforcement.

    The Federal Trade Commission reported earlier this year that Florida ranked first in the nation last year for the number of identity theft complaints per capita. Georgia followed, with California coming in third.

    Florida’s top identity theft complaints came from fraud relating to government documents, such as tax returns, followed by credit card fraud and bank fraud.

    (Source: Kimberly Miller The Palm Beach Post, Fla. (MCT)

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