Florida’s attorney general issues a warning about callers who say they’re from ‘FDLE’

That phone call from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement demanding you pony up payment right now for some infraction? Before you start frantically, fearfully reaching for some form of payment, heed this week’s Consumer Alert from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Impostor scams involving FDLE imitators are on the rise, now helped by “spoofing” phone numbers — using equipment that allows one phone number to masquerade as another. It’s a technological upgrade on the now-basic phone scam, originally using someone claiming to be from “Internal Revenue Services” or “IRS.”

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“As Florida’s Attorney General, I am infuriated that anyone would impersonate law enforcement, especially one of our state law enforcement agencies—FDLE,” Moody said in a statement. “Not only are scams like this illegal, they make citizens question real law enforcement efforts. Please be on the look-out for these types of imposter scams and report fraud to FDLE, local law enforcement or my office at (866) 9NO-SCAM.”

Tips for avoiding impostor scams:

Don’t trust your caller ID. Spoofing equipment can make calls seem like they’re coming from anywhere.

Don’t give any personal or financial information. If the caller says they need your Social Security Number or bank account number to identify you, tell them that’s their problem. They called you. Then, hang up.

Know how public agencies operate. Law enforcement and other public entities don’t call you like debt collectors. They don’t demand immediate payment. And they don’t accept prepaid debit cards or gift cards as payment any more than they would accept McDonald’s gift certificates.

Know your own situation. Don’t remember that traffic ticket, violation or summons they’re talking about? Maybe it doesn’t exist and they’re just fraudulent. Check online at your county’s clerk of the court website.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.