Volume 2 Number 38
September 19, 2005

Consumer Services HelpLine Number 800-342-2762






Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is warning Floridians to be on the lookout for a new identity theft scheme.

In the scheme a victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a local court worker who tells the victim they failed to report for jury duty.  To further put the victim off-guard, they may say an arrest warrant has been issued. When the victim says they never received a jury duty notice, the scammer asks for personal information to check their records.

“You should be wary of anyone who calls asking for personal information,” said Gallagher.  “No legitimate business would ask for such information by phone.”

This latest identity theft scheme has already been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.

Gallagher said this scheme seems to be a spin-off of one in which a caller or an e-mailer poses as an employee of a financial institution requesting information to re-activate a victim’s bank account.  And Gallagher has echoed concerns from Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson that scammers may set up fake charities to prey on people’s sympathy for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Gallagher offered these tips to Floridians:

  • Do not give your personal information to a telephone or e-mail solicitor.

  • Only give to disaster relief charities you know are reliable and beware of "copy-cat" names that sound like reputable charities.

  • Make checks payable to the charitable organization and not to an individual collecting a donation.

  • Carry only a few credit cards with you.

  • Shred all credit card receipts and solicitations, cancelled checks and financial documents before throwing them away.

  • Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox overnight.

  • Check your credit report at least twice a year.

The new courthouse in Indian River County, named for the scenic body of water running between the barrier islands and the mainland along Florida's Treasure Coast. America's first National Wildlife Refuge was established on Pelican Island in the Indian River by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.