HCSO Cpl. Bruce Crumpler, left and detective Phil Newman speak to a senior residents gathered at the Riverview Civic Center during a recent seminar on identity theft and Internet fraud.

As the low-tech methods associated with Internet fraud and identity theft like purse snatching or “dumpster diving,” are being replaced by high-tech techniques like “phishing” or  “skimming” through deceptive e-mails or malicious software known as “spyware,” one thing remains unchanged; identity theft is a crime and no one is safe.

Identity theft tops the list of consumer complaints that are reported to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) which estimates that  as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

While everyone is a target, senior residents find themselves especially vulnerable as they take a shot at maneuvering their way through the Word Wide Webb.

To educate and protect them, the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office held an informational seminar last month organized by HCSO Riverview Community Service Officer Barbara Jones and supported by and co-sponsored by P.R.I.D.E.  (People of Riverview, Informed, Dedicated, Educated) and the Riverview Hobby Club.

The well-attended free event was held at the Riverview Civic Center at 11020 Park Drive, and welcomed a number of detectives including HCSO Economic Crime Division Detective Phil Newman, who spoke to those present at length on the topic.

“Trust Nobody,” Newman said, as he drew attention to the fact that seniors were raised at a time when most people could be trusted, adding, “Things have changed.”

Newman emphasized the importance of paying close attention, to be aware and suspect all and to make use of all resources available such as asking questions.

“Legitimate people will not mind you asking questions,” he said. “If in doubt, be patient. Call your neighbor, grand kids friends and family.”

Barbara Adams of Riverview, a recent victim of identity theft, spoke highly of the effort by the sheriff’s office to educate the public on the topic.

“I am very frustrated with all of this, but the seminar provides a great forum to learn,” Adams said. “I hope they keep it up.”

For more information about how to avoid becoming a victim, please call the sheriff’s office at 247-0893 or visit the FTC at www.ftc.gov.

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