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Florida identity theft up 175% since start of pandemic

WESH Orlando logo WESH Orlando 6/24/2022
identity theft © Provided by WESH Orlando identity theft

Throughout the pandemic, as the number of COVID-19 cases went up, the amount of identity theft reports rose too, according to QuoteWizard.

“Identity theft isn’t just going up, it is skyrocketing in some places,” said Nick VinZant.

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VinZant is a senior research analyst for QuoteWizard, an insurance comparison website owned by LendingTree.

He said the company found identity theft reports in Florida went up 175% since the beginning of the pandemic. He added that Florida ranks No. 4 among states with the highest rate of reports per 100,000 people behind Delaware, Georgia and Maryland.

Out of Florida’s major cities, the company found Orlando saw the biggest increase in identity theft reports, up 241% since 2019. The report states the company analyzed data from the Federal Trade Commission on identity theft reports from 2019 and 2022 to compile the findings.

“What we found is the sharp rise in identity theft correlates almost directly with the pandemic,” VinZant said. “Criminals tried to take advantage of people through bank scams, job opportunity scams and also by taking advantage of government stimulus programs.”

At the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida, they consistently receive reports of identity theft year-round, according to Vice President of Operations Erika Urdaneta. She said the type of identity theft they are seeing an uptick in now is the ‘imposter scam.’ That is when a scammer acts like a business and asks for your personal information.

“They can say it’s a business and I’m your bank, your local bank institution and I need your social security to verify your information,” Urdaneta said.

This can happen over a phone call, text message or on a website.

“If they’re pressuring you to give your social security number, address, date of birth, that’s a red flag,” she said. “Before you do anything, make sure you research the person or the business that’s asking for this information.”

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