DEO Press Releases

Protect Your Personal Information This Holiday Season

Nov 25, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As the holiday season approaches, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is reminding consumers to protect their personal information. Florida has the highest per capita rate of identity theft in the nation, which means Floridians are vulnerable to cyber criminals looking to poach their online information.

The Department’s Executive Director, Jesse Panuccio, said, “At DEO, we are seeing identity theft every day with false claims for benefits, and we are working diligently to safeguard taxpayers’ investment in social services. We are reminding consumers to carefully monitor their personal and financial information to ensure they are protected from cybercrimes and cyberfraud.”

DEO has been successfully combating public assistance fraud and has stopped 135,000 fraudulent claims in two years, saving taxpayers more than $558 million. The system has been featured in a CNN investigation, honored with several awards -- including the State Excellence Awards for Leadership from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies -- and praised by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General.

DEO hopes to ramp up investment in public assistance fraud investigations across the state, and released a plan earlier this year to add fraud investigators to its anti-fraud team.

Protect yourself from identity theft and fraud this holiday season with these helpful tips:

Guard your online and hard copy information:

  • Protect yourself by clearing saved login and password information, and be sure to regularly change your passwords.
  • Shred and properly dispose of sensitive documents that contain your personal information.

Monitor your accounts:

  • Monitor your bank accounts for suspicious purchases and check your credit report for changes.
  • Take advantage of free credit reports. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit monitoring bureaus. Contact the bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion directly.
If you are a victim of identity theft, check with the credit bureaus to see if you are eligible for free credit monitoring.

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