Identity theft can happen anywhere at any time. At the gas pump, at the grocery store and particularly at online retailers, people can be monitoring your activity and waiting to strike.
Floridians are even more susceptible to identity theft, ranking second in the country for losses due to identity theft in 2019.
“Last year, 2019, Florida had about nearly $43 million in identity theft losses, and this year, as of now, from January to this point in July, we have seen already nearly $32 million in losses,” said Andrea Aprea, with the FBI in Tampa.
Florida also ranked second for overall cyber crimes and we’re on track to exceed both of those records this year. One reason for that is the increase in online shopping due to COVID-19.
“Under the COVID-19 crisis, you know, we are seeing a lot more scams and online schemes going on in Florida,” said Aprea.
Many of those scammers are targeting the older population throughout Florida, specifically in Southwest Florida. Aprea thinks we all need to protect ourselves more.
“The bottom line is I think people need to realize we are online more, we are accessing the internet more, we just need to be on guard more,” she said.
This includes things like not opening email attachments, not wiring money or buying gift cards at the direction of another person, and if someone calls asking for personal information, hang up.
If someone tries any of these methods, report them to law enforcement or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Division.