Q: What is happening of interest in the State Attorney’s Office?
A: I’d like to bring something important to people’s attention. Recently, we were prosecuting a man who managed to obtain the Florida Bar Association numbers for two of the prosecuting attorneys working his case for our office. He then fraudulently created an email account and electronic files and sent a case dismissal through the attorney portal to the clerk of court’s office. Someone from the clerk’s office contacted us about it and we have since charged this man with theft of personal information and forgery among other counts. We have also corrected and strengthened the attorney portal to make it more secure.
The takeaway from this is … no one, not even the State Attorney’s Office, is immune from electronic fraud.
Everything from mobile deposit of checks to online shopping is actually a risk. All the technological things that make life easier create an opportunity for tech savvy criminals to use to their advantage. Florida is the number one state in the country right now for fraud.
Q: As pertains to electronic fraud and personal identity theft, do you have any tips to share?
A: First, check with all three credit reporting agencies, as they can be different, for unauthorized activity. You get one free credit report per year for this purpose. You can subscribe to a service that monitors your credit or do it yourself. You can also freeze your credit.
If you are using wireless internet, invest in a firewall product to protect your computer and any credit card information that you might have stored.
Be sure to do your due diligence about whether you want to share your phone number or email address, even for things like store rewards programs, but especially for things like sweepstakes.
Be aware of what technology can do for you as well as for the pitfalls. It’s important to balance the convenience of technology with security.
Readers can visit our website, www.sao7.com and look under the “Protect Yourself” tab for more tips.