Letters to the Editor

Beware of scammers

As technology advances and cultural norms shift, financial fraud scammers may try new tactics to target victims. As we go about our lives, many of us do not stop to consider how our everyday actions are creating risk.

However, it is important to understand seemingly harmless habits that can leave you vulnerable to scammers. There are a few simple, but important, actions you can take to reduce your risk of financial fraud.

Ads that pop up while you are on a website may contain malware or viruses that will download onto your computer once you click on them. To reduce your risk, change your browser settings to block pop-up ads and only click on websites once you’ve determined the web address is legitimate.

E-mails from unknown senders can contain links or attachments that lead to fake websites in an attempt to glean your personal identifying information. These are commonly called “phishing” emails. You should delete all suspicious emails without opening them.

Simply tossing documents in the trash with account numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other identifying information means that scammers can retrieve your documents and steal your information. Always shred documents before disposing of them.

Many times, scammers will call and pretend to be a legitimate company or government agency to trick victims into giving out personal identifying information. If you are concerned, that there is a legitimate issue with one of your accounts, hang up and call the company directly.

Just because a financial professional receives glowing reviews from a friend does not mean they are properly licensed. Always do your own research via Florida Office of Financial Regulation online at www.flofr.com or by calling (850) 487-9687.

Drew J. Breakspear, commissioner, Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Tallahassee