Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
|June 27, 2007
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
|en Español||Print Version||Tweet|
McCollum Sponsors Consumer Protection Initiatives
~ Sarasota, Manatee county residents receive services, information on preventing identity theft and crimes against seniors ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Two initiatives focusing on consumer protection were today launched by Attorney General Bill McCollum in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Earlier today, Sarasota residents were invited to participate in an Identity Theft Shred-a-Thon, sponsored in part by RBC Centura Bank and Iron Mountain, Inc. Following the Shred-a-Thon, the Attorney General opened Florida’s 29th Seniors vs. Crime location, providing Manatee County with a venue and resources for senior citizens who believe they have been victimized by fraud or other crimes.
“Unfortunately, people may not realize the insidious and devastating nature of identity theft until they have been victimized, losing not only their financial assets but also their good names,” said McCollum. “Any effort we can make to educate our citizens about prevention and protection may save countless Floridians from falling prey.”
The Sarasota Shred-a-Thon offered free document shredding services and consumer educational information to participating consumers and business owners. A mobile shredding unit, provided by Iron Mountain, was on site at an RBC Centura Bank location for individuals to shred receipts, old bills and other outdated personal documents. Additionally, law enforcement officials from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the Sarasota Police Department, as well as an ID theft victim advocate from the Attorney General’s Office, were available to provide information about preventing identity theft and how to recover from the crime if victimized.
"Identity theft is the fasting growing crime in America, affecting half a million new victims each year. A little vigilance on everyone's part can go a long way toward protecting your identity,” said Sarasota County Sheriff William Balkwill. “Many safeguards are common sense, but there are some steps you can take that may not be so obvious. Please learn more about preventing identity theft."
"The effects of identity theft are far reaching as well as time consuming and difficult to correct,” added Sarasota Police Chief Peter Abbott. “Educating the public on actions they can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft is a valuable step towards prevention."
Attorney General McCollum also reminded residents and guests that while price gouging is an issue more commonly associated with hurricanes, identity theft can also closely follow devastating storms. Floridians should take all necessary precautions to safeguard personal documents or other important information as a storm or other natural disaster approaches. Often in the wake of storms, papers containing personally identifiable information can be misplaced or fall into the wrong hands, not only complicating the recovery process but also exposing citizens to the threat of identity theft.
After leaving Sarasota, Attorney General McCollum was joined in Bradenton by the Manatee County Sheriff to open the newest Seniors vs. Crime facility. Seniors vs. Crime volunteers, often called "Senior Sleuths," will staff the facility to provide a place for potential victims to file a complaint, discuss their concerns with their peers and receive other assistance.
“The Seniors vs. Crime program is an invaluable resource to our elder citizens, providing them with a welcoming and proactive atmosphere in which to address their complaints,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I extend my appreciation to the countless Senior Sleuths and law enforcement who have made this program a successful venture throughout our state.”
“We applaud the Attorney General’s work to establish the Seniors vs. Crime office in our area and expand services to our senior citizens that will prevent them from being victimized,” said Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.
Since the program’s inception, Senior Sleuths around the state have handled several thousand complaints, resolving the vast majority of them to elder citizens’ satisfaction. In six years of operation, Senior Sleuths have recovered more than $5.3 million for seniors and have been directly responsible for well over 100 criminal charges being brought against companies and individuals.
Additional information about the Seniors vs. Crime program can be found at the program’s website, http://www.seniorsvscrime.com or at the Attorney General’s website, http://www.myfloridalegal.com.