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**CONSUMER ALERT** CFO Jimmy Patronis: Don’t Fall for a Scam this Labor Day Weekend

9/2/2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis is urging Floridians to watch out for potential scams this Labor Day weekend. Holidays are when families look to take a quick trip out of town, and scam artists will try and use online and travel-related deals to steal personal information.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “So far this year, the FTC has reported more than 83,000 fraud complaints in Florida and more than $142 million in fraud losses. That’s an alarming number, and we must continue to warn consumers of the dangers of fraud and scams. Bad actors will often target holidays and use online scams and fake travel deals to get their hands on sensitive personal information. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Knowing the warning signs of fraud is the best way to protect yourself from a scam before you fall victim. If you or a loved one believes they are a victim of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”
 
Tips to Avoid Holiday Scams:

1. Keep Personal Information Private – Trustworthy companies will not ask for personal information such as your social security number over the phone. Never give out any of your personal data prior to doing research into the company.
2. Review the Ratings – Look into the ratings of the business to ensure it is reputable, and has a good reputation. The Better Business Bureau provides ratings, complaints and reviews from previous customers. 
3. Browse Carefully – While looking for travel deals, stay away from web ads and links that you cannot verify. Scam artists will use catchy wording and appealing images to lure you to book on a fraudulent site.
4. Book on Secure Sites – Prior to entering your credit card information, look for the secure lock symbol next to the website address or an address that starts with “https”. The “s” stands for secure.
 
Common Travel and Vacation Scams that Floridians Should Be Aware of:
 
1. Vacation Rental/Online Booking Scams – Scam artists post fake rental listings and require a deposit or personal information to book. When you arrive, the property is occupied or doesn’t exist at all.
2. Vacation Package – Scam artists offer a vacation package, which allegedly includes airfare, mileage points and lodging for a great deal. When you arrive at the airport, you find out that the ticket is fraudulent.
3. Third-Party Operators – You book a plane ticket or hotel on a website that appears to belong to the airline or hotel. You later find out that the site is operated by a third-party vendor that may charge fees to book, may not be authorized to sell the tickets or offer hotel accommodations. 
4. Free Vacations – You receive an unsolicited offer of a free vacation. When you arrive, you may be required to pay additional fees or adhere to specific restrictions. Or, the vacation doesn’t exist at all and the scam artists stole your personal information.
 
For more information on protecting your personal information and finances, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM.
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).