The Florida Department of Financial Services' Division of Consumer Services continuously monitors the insurance and financial industry to inform and protect consumers from various financial scams designed to steal your hard-earned money. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a financial scam please call 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (639-5236) or REPORT FRAUD now. To view a listing of common Fraud and Scams, click here.
The Department of Financial Services was recently notified of a series of fraudulent phone calls that have the appearance of coming from the Department’s Division of Treasury's main line (850) 413-3165. The callers are claiming to be from the "Department of Revenue" and are demanding payments from the recipient of the call stating that they "owe them money". Spoofing, also known as “ghosting”, allows the fraudulent caller’s incoming call to show the Department’s number on caller-id so if one were to call the number back, they would be directed to our Department. This is done in an effort to legitimize the fraudulent scheme.
The Department of Financial Services does not conduct any form of bill collecting or financial transacting in this manner. If you receive a call from the Department of Financial Services that matches this description or seems suspicious, please remember to hang up, and dial (850) 413-3165. Do not provide any information until you have called the Department back and have spoken to a DFS representative. If the fraudulent or suspicious call is being made to appear as a different Department phone number, please hang up and call the Department of Financial Services Consumer Helpline (In-State) 1-877-693-5236 (Out of State) (850) 413-3089.
Florida consumers should be wary of fake emails that claim to be from the Office of Financial Regulation. These email messages indicate that the consumer is behind on a payday loan and threats of legal action are often made.
Phone/E-mail Pitch: Scammers often identify themselves as “Officer Joel Winston” or “John Smith.” These individuals will use official logos, without permission, to create falsified email messages that appear to be very authentic. They claim the consumers have outstanding payments on a payday loan. Consumers are instructed to call a number, which typically contains a 904 area code, in order to resolve the issue.
Target: All consumers.
Result: Consumers that provide personal and financial information to these scammers via email or phone risk having their identity stolen or fraudulent purchases made using their accounts.
How to avoid this scam: Do not immediately respond to emails that claim to be from the Office of Financial Regulation. Be on the lookout for incorrect grammar, misspelling and vague information. Consumers should also inspect the author’s email address to determine if it is an official state government email address.
Do not hesitate to contact the Office of Financial Regulation to report these fake emails. Visit www.flofr.com or call (850) 487-9687 for more information or to file a complaint.
This scam claims to come from the Director or Assistant Director of the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud. It requests personal information to help with an investigation or to avoid criminal prosecution.
Email Pitch: An email arrives claiming to come from the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud’s Director and/or Assistant Director. The message will include the Division of Insurance Fraud’s physical address and logo, but it is not legitimate. The email may claim that an item of great value was being sent to you and has been confiscated or cannot be delivered because it lacks the proper insurance. The email directs the consumer to contact an organization- in this instance, the Tucson International Airport- and provide personal information to avoid prosecution or confiscation of the item. The Division of Insurance Fraud will not ask that confidential information be sent over email, nor does it direct consumers to contact a third party to provide this information.
Target: All consumers, particularly those who have insurance products in Florida.
Result: Consumers who respond to this message risk compromising their confidential, personal information and becoming a victim of identity theft.
How to avoid this scam: Do not respond to unsolicited emails asking for personal information and refrain from calling the phone number provided. If you receive an email claiming to be from the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud asking for personal information, call 850-413-3115 to verify and report the email.
Cyber security refers to protection from security risks like unauthorized access to networks, programs, information and data, and attacks or damage to computers and other devices. As cyberspace becomes more and more integrated into professional and personal tasks, it’s even more important to increase awareness on the topic, be aware of the risks that go along with online activity and take steps to increase cyber security.
Identity Theft Scams - Through phishing, for example, scammers look to gain access electronically to personal information such as Social Security Numbers, credit cards and bank account information to open fraudulent accounts or make fraudulent purchases. Phishing is accessing personal data by posing as a legitimate organization or entity via email or a website. The goal is to install malicious software on your computer and other devices. Another way is through social engineering, which is convincing you to install the software by providing a link, pop-up advertisement or encouraging you to download something from a website.
Cyber criminals use many other scams to access personal information, which include:
Tech Support Scam - In this scam, you receive a phone call or an email from someone posing as a computer support technician, typically from Microsoft or Dell, asking to remotely access your computer or download software to fix a problem. They will try to sell you software to fix your computer or install malicious software to steal your personal information. Once the scammer has access to your computer, they are able to change the settings on your computer that could leave it vulnerable to viruses.
Chip Card Scam - The new credit and debit cards embedded with a microchip are designed to reduce fraud, but scammers see it as an opportunity to commit fraud. Scammers and cyber criminals try to capitalize on the delay in consumers receiving the new cards from credit card companies or financial institutions. In this scam, you receive an email or phone call from someone claiming to be from your financial institution or credit card company stating that personal account information needs to be updated so that a new credit card with a microchip can be issued in your name. The scammer states that this can only be done by confirming some personal information or clicking on a link within the email. Again, once you click on the link, the scammer can unleash a virus onto your device that provides access to personal information.
Lottery Scam - In this scam, a cyber criminal may contact you by email claiming that you have won a prize or the lottery. They may request your bank account information to wire the prize money. You may also be asked to click on a link or attachment to claim the winnings. Again, clicking on the link or opening the attachment could download a virus onto your computer or other devices.
Below are common red flags to recognize a cyber crime:
Below are a few tips to protect your identity:
To report cyber crimes and other scams, visit the Florida Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.
For information on additional scams and cyber crimes, visit the Department’s Frauds and Scams page.
The Florida Lottery reported that scammers have been sending emails using the department's logo and letterhead claiming the recipient has won a monetary prize. To claim a share of the funds, the email requests that the recipient contact the person listed, provide financial information and pay taxes.
Florida Lottery officials will not contact players unless they have entered a game or drawing on the official Florida Lottery website or social media sites. Remember, you can’t win if you didn’t enter. To report a lottery scam, contact the Florida Lottery's Division of Security at 850-487-7730. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a financial scam please call 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (639-5236) or REPORT FRAUD now.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a complaint in federal district court against Florida debt-relief company American Debt Settlement Solutions, Inc. (ADSS) alleging that the company misled consumers by charging illegal fees for their services. ADSS is accused of routinely charging illegal upfront fees for debt-relief services that rarely, if ever, materialized. Other charges include falsely promising to settle debts within a specific timeframe and enrolling consumers who were not likely to successfully complete their programs causing further debt. Read more...
Floridians who have received a warranty offer from HomeServe USA Repair Management Corp. are urged to carefully review the offer for an “optional service plan.” The Miami-based insurance agency is reported to have mailed notices to 600,000 Florida residents in November 2012, and consumers are complaining that the notice looks like a bill from a government agency. Click here for an article about the complaints.
The Division of Consumer Services has provided a list of suggestions to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on steps to improve the recovery process for disaster victims. Click here to read the list of suggestions.
Two Michigan-based insurance companies, iWorld Financial Group (iWorld) and United Defend Company a/k/a United Defendco (UDC), have been ordered to stop engaging in the unauthorized and unlicensed sale of insurance in the state of Florida. The companies offered, issued and/or administered errors and omissions coverage to insurance agents in Florida without a license. These actions were done through Facebook and the following websites: Read more…
We have encountered an insurance agency located in California who sold commercial property and liability policies in Florida without being licensed. The policies sold were bogus. Please call the Departments' Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) if you believe you or someone you know may have purchased a policy from this agency. As always, please verify the product you are purchasing before you buy it.
An unlicensed company named Unlimited Fulfillments Services, LLC has been contacting seniors about an annuity they may have that has reached the end of its surrender period. Misleading postcards sent to these consumers advise that they needed to contact the company's "Scheduling Department" to discuss options. This company is not licensed to transact insurance business in Florida, and the Florida Department of Financial Services has filed a Notice of Intent to Issue Cease and Desist Order against the company. Read more...
A company calling themselves National Sweepstakes has contacted a senior consumer in South Florida claiming to require payments to the IRS in order to collect her $1 million-plus prize. Legitimate lotteries do not ask for money up front to collect winnings, and it should always be a red flag if you have been notified of winning a lottery for which you never submitted an entry. Read more...
A company calling themselves The Florida Department of Financial Restitution has been contacting consumers claiming to be on contract with the Department of Financial Services and trying to collect a $600 upfront fee to recover unclaimed property. There is no legal entity named The Florida Department of Financial Restitution, and consumers should not agree to this offer, sign a contract or send any money to the Florida Department of Financial Restitution. Read more...