If you have data on your computer, you are a target for identity theft.
That’s what Sheriff Kevin Rambosk told about 20 members of the identity theft task force last week.
But thankfully, because of the task force, Naples and Marco Island are a little bit safer.
In the past, the area had been ranked second and third throughout the country for victimization nationwide.
Thanks to the now two-year-old identity theft task force, the two metropolitan areas are in seventh place.
“It’s a good direction to be going,” Rambosk told just under three dozen people gathered at the Leila B. Canant Professional Development Center in downtown Naples. “Up instead of down. The task force has made a significant difference in identity theft.”
“Look where we were two and a half years ago,” Rambosk pointed out. “Versus today.”
More businesses, he said, are reporting a crime instead of reporting being a victim.
“While we started in a high level of reporting, that reporting has now changed into preventive measures.”
Rambosk also credits the taskforce’s success to hard work and camaraderie.
“We’re doing something most places are not,” he said. “We’re engaging members of the community and working together.”
A slew of prominent Neapolitans gathered Monday for the hourlong talk including former Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce president and co-chair of the task force Mike Reagen, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, Carrie Kerskie, the director of Hodges University’s new Identity Fraud Institute, Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, and police chiefs from Naples and Marco Island.
“There’s always scams going around,” Kerskie said. “But most people don’t know until they’re a victim.”
Within the last month, the task force met with local business to see what they knew about business identity theft and fraud.
Kerskie said some business leaders didn’t know what they needed to do or what they were liable for or what is and is not covered under insurance.
“Our goal is to really educate the business community because if we don’t stop a lot of this on the business side, then it will never get down to the consumer side,” Kerskie told the room.
The task force discussed possibly implementing an alert for when a possible scam is going on.
Some ideas to raise awareness included a brown bag lunch and learn series in the summer and early fall and more forums in the upcoming months.
“In the height of season,” Kerskie said. “We’re not going to get business owners to come out because they’re up to their ears working with clients.”
Some of the agencies at risk more than others, Kerskie said, are law firms and public relations agencies.
Public relations companies appeal to hackers, Kerskie said, because they look at them like “well hanging fruit that leads them to big businesses and companies.”
She cited the massive 2013 Target data breach as an example.
“They would go in through the PR firm,” she said. “And then they would wait until they reached out to a major client of theirs.”
Businesses might not realize they’ve been hacked.
Most businesses will tell Kerskie they’ve never had a data breach.
Then later on in the conversation, they’ll remember at some point they’ve had a virus.
“So people don’t connect,” she said. “That ransomware and malware is a breach. They don’t make that connection so they don’t tell anyone. Meanwhile, sensitive information is being released and they’re not aware of it.”
What: Identity fraud forum
When: 3 p.m. April 6
Where: 1100 Immokalee Road, Naples
Information: Reservations are not required
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