Your Identity In Crisis: Skimming, Phishing, Dumpster Diving

It is truly amazing how accessible information has become in recent years. We seldom stop to think how easily and quickly certain things can be done, like approving a credit card, transferring money, or a filling a prescription. While this can be a big positive in many respects, one must also consider the potential downside to having certain data so readily available. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In 2008, the State of Florida ranked third in the nation for number of victims of identity theft with 24,440 reported cases. That represents a 26.8% increase over the number of complaints filed the previous year (19,270). Chances are, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.

The following information will help you to take a proactive approach in securing your information and keeping your identity safe. Remember, education is the best defense against fraud and deception. For Florida residents and visitors, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is here for you -- their Consumer Hotline will answer any questions you may have or direct you to the best resource for assistance. If you are calling within Florida simply dial 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), outside of Florida 850-488-2221 or en Español 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).