DEO warns online consumers to protect their personal information against identity theft

As South Florida enters the shopping season, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is warning online consumers to protect their personal information against cyber identity theft and cyber fraud. South Florida is particularly vulnerable, with the highest per capita rate of identity theft in the nation.

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.

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