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Gulf Oil Spill Phishing Scam
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Beware of Scams

As state officials and residents deal with the impacts the Deepwater Horizon spill on Florida's sensitive coastal areas and the state's economy, my office will continue providing as much information as possible to Floridians so they can protect themselves and their rights from various types of fraud related to this disastrous spill. Additionally, I caution all Florida residents to not waive any rights or sign any settlement documents from any companies or corporations until they know the full extent of their loss, which may be significantly higher than the money being offered initially. These offers could be premature or even fraudulent.

Be cautious before proceeding with any of these scenarios:

They contact you - Be wary of anyone who contacts you and solicits anything from you. They may be legitimate, but more often these are scams. We have received at least one report of an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be working on oil spill relief efforts. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, flyers, mailings, telephone calls, and other similar methods.

They are looking for people to work – Advertisements are appearing online offering oil spill recovery jobs, claiming all the applicant needs do is pay for the hazmat training. Beware of job opportunities that require the applicant to pay an advanced fee before the job begins. All of the jobs that will be required for on-shore relief training will provide training at no cost. The same holds true for marine-type jobs where participants will be required to lay protective booms. In many of these situations, the cost of marine fuel will actually be reimbursed or provided to you. If you are interested in volunteering, please review the links below.

They are trying to collect your charitable donation - Please be aware that any unsolicited contact by a person or organization you have not donated to in the past may be fraudulent. Scam artists will likely surface requesting donations for animal rescue organizations or environmental groups. Please do not donate money without first checking out the organization and DO NOT give them cash. If you feel compelled to donate, please contact the organization yourself, either by phone or through the internet. Beware of organizations with “copy-cat” names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities. Most legitimate charities websites end in .org rather than .com.

Additional Tips for Any Situation

  • Beware of individuals posing as government officials who require a processing fee to provide government services.
  • Use only licensed contractors.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status, rather than following a provided link.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use such tactics.
  • Be aware of whom you are dealing with when providing your personal and financial information. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Report individuals who are making false or exaggerated insurance claims.
  • Report individuals who make insurance claims but reside outside of the disaster zone.
  • Beware of contractors who require up-front payment for services because they may fail to perform the work or complete the job to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Require contractors to provide a written contract and estimate detailing the services to be performed.