Dozens Arrested in Florida ID Theft Scam

June 11, 2007

Florida officials arrested 26 individuals throughout the state on charges of using fraudulent identification to gain employment.

The arrests, which began Monday and continued through Thursday, stem from a joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services and the Department of Environmental Protection that found 115 individuals using one 10-year-old’s Social Security number.

“Employers need to know that this issue goes beyond finding workers to fill jobs, this is about the safety of our citizens,” said Fla. CFO Alex Sink. “Identity theft is a huge and costly problem, and employers who turn a blind eye pose a very real and serious threat to the public.”

The investigation began with DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement looking into allegations that individuals were illegally harvesting and selling aquatic plants, which belong to the State of Florida. During the course of the investigation, agents found that one of the suspects was using a fictitious Social Security number on his employment record. DEP law enforcement agents contacted the DFS, and began working jointly with DFS agents on the investigation.

As a result of the joint investigation, workers using fraudulent Social Security cards have been arrested this week on job sites in Seminole, St. Lucie, Broward County and West Palm Beach.

Detectives have learned that they bought the cards for $30 to $300 each.

Some common ways that ID theft occurs include:

-Dumpster Diving. Rummaging through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
-Skimming. Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
-Phishing. Pretending to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
-Changing Your Address. Diverting billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
-Old-Fashioned Stealing. Stealing personnel records or bribing employees who have access; wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information.
-Pretexting. Using false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources.

CFO Sink offered the following tips:

-Promptly remove mail from mail box and take outgoing mail to a post office box or drop box
-Never leave receipts and empty your purse or wallet of extra items
-Memorize your social security number and passwords
-Do not give personal information over the phone, by Internet or for a sweepstakes contest
-Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails
-Use a separate credit card for Internet purchases
If you apply for a credit card and do not receive it in a timely manner, notify the creditor
-Notify creditors and financial institutions in advance if you plan to move
-Shred pre-approved credit card offers, financial documents and paperwork with personal information
-Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately
-Regularly review credit reports

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

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