show there are almost 8,000 dating sites worldwide and that more
than 49 million Americans have tried online dating.
Unfortunately, not everyone you meet on these sites is being
honest and aboveboard. There are scammers out there who will tug
at your heartstrings and take advantage of your search for love.
Romance scammers are masters of "catfishing," the act of
setting up a false personal profile for fraudulent or deceptive
purposes. These profiles are often comprised of information,
such as photos, names, addresses, etc., stolen from legitimate
online profiles. Romance scammers will troll dating sites and
tailor their profile to make themselves as attractive as
possible to potential victims.
In addition to online dating sites, romance scammers may also
use social media or email to connect with potential victims.
their initial approach, romance scammers will soon want to move
your conversations to the telephone, email, or instant
messaging, in other words, somewhere more private. They will
take the time and steps necessary to gain your trust, but once
they have set the hook, the requests for money, favors, gifts,
and possibly things of a more intimate nature will start rolling
Confidence fraud or romance scams ranked among the top 10
crime types reported in 2017 to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center. These scams
resulted in losses to victims totaling over $211 million. There
are warning signs to look for and steps to take to make sure a
search for love and romance doesn't lead to heartache and
financial ruin at the hands of a scammer.
come on strong in the beginning and try to quickly move
communications to email or private messaging, just in case
their profile gets flagged or shut down.
- The information in their online profile may not match
what they say or how they sound.
- Their messages are often vague and poorly written.
- Their camera never works if you ask to video chat.
always have an excuse or reason for why they cannot travel
to meet you in person. One common scam involves the scammer
asking for travel money, so they can come to meet you, and
then never showing up.
- After gaining your trust, possibly over an extended
period of time, they share an elaborate story that ends in a
request for money, gifts, or bank account/credit card
- The scammer's messages become demanding, desperate, and
persistent if you do not send money when they request it.
- Run an image search on the profile picture or any other
pictures they send to determine if they are really who they
say they are.
- Be careful about sharing personal pictures or videos
with someone you have only met online.
send money, gift cards, bank account/credit card information
to someone you have only met online.
- Do not transfer money for someone else.
- Do not pick up or accept a package and forward it or
deliver it for someone you have only met online.
- Tell family and friends when and where you are going if
you agree to meet an online "friend" in person.
think you have been a victim of a romance scam, report it to the
website, app, or social media site where you met the scammer.
Contact your bank and your credit card company if you provided
the scammer with account information. Finally, report suspected
scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at the Federal
Bureau of Investigations.
National Consumer Protection Week
March 4th - 8th, 2019
clearinghouse for consumer complaints and information. The
department's Division of Consumer Services will host a
free webinar on March 8,
2019, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (EST), titled FDACS: Making a
Difference for Florida's Consumers. The webinar, held in
conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, will
highlight the many ways the department works to protect
Click here to register for this free webinar.
Tax Related Identity Theft
theft is a continuous problem, with many of its victims unaware
that their identity has been stolen until they are denied credit
or sent a bill for purchases they did not make. This time of
year, there is an increase in tax identity theft, which occurs
when an individual's Social Security number (SSN) is stolen for
the purpose of filing a tax return and claiming a fraudulent
Steps to Prevent Identity Theft
your information. Shred financial
documents and paperwork, protect your SSN,
never click on links sent in
unsolicited emails, and keep your personal
information in a safe place.
- Watch for suspicious activity by routinely monitoring
your financial account and billing
statements for any questionable transactions.
a free annual credit report
from each of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax,
Experian, TransUnion) at
Identity Theft Warning Signs
are notified by the Internal Revenue Service that
more than one tax return
using your SSN has been filed within one year.
- You owe additional tax, refund offset, or had collection
actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax
- You receive collection calls or
bills for products you or your family did not
- You are denied credit.
- You or a member of your family is
denied government benefits because the
benefits are being paid to another account using your or
your family member's SSN.
Steps to Take in Case Identity Theft Has Occurred
For additional information, contact the Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at
1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español
identity theft as soon as a problem is suspected.
Place a fraud alert on your credit
reports (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion), close
any accounts that have been compromised or opened
fraudulently, file a police report, and file a complaint
with the Federal Trade Commission at
- Respond immediately to any IRS
notice. Call your local IRS office to verify any
telephone numbers provided in written notices or, if
instructed, go to
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit,
if your e-filed return is rejected
because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are
instructed to do so.
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return,
even if you must do so by paper.
- If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a
resolution, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized
Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
Florida's A-Z Resource Guide
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
has created the "A
- Z Resource Guide" to help Floridians find the most
appropriate agency to contact for various issues. The
"A-Z Resource Guide" is available online at
FreshFromFlorida.com. The services offered to
consumers are listed in alphabetical order, in addition
to a search function that provides information about the
regulatory agency and statutes, if applicable. This
resource guide is available in English and Spanish.
The department assists consumers regardless of
whether we regulate the specific business or industry.
If your complaint falls within our jurisdiction, we
attempt to resolve your dispute and evaluate the
business for compliance with applicable statutes. If
your complaint is filed against a business that is not
regulated by any federal, state or local government
entity, we will attempt informal mediation to resolve
the dispute. In the event that the complaint falls
within another agency's jurisdiction, we will refer it
to that agency.
Before engaging in services with a business, it's
also a good idea to research the business to see if it
has any complaints filed against it and, if so, how they
were resolved. To do this, consumers can utilize the "Business/Complaint
Lookup" feature on our website.
Click to View
Consumer Product Recalls
|The Division of Food Safety
monitors food from the point of manufacturing
and distribution through wholesale and retail
sales to ensure the public of safe, wholesome
and properly represented food products.
||The Consumer Product Safety
Commission provides consumer product recall
information as part of the agency's mission to
protect consumers and families from hazardous
The Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services is the state's clearinghouse for
consumer complaints, protection, and information.
Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact
the department's consumer protection and information
hotline by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for
Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) or visit us