Attention licensed real estate brokers and fellow members of the LTRBA: Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is warning all state licensees about a new license renewal scam that targets Florida. At least one real estate licensee has already been targeted.
Even those of us well aware of scamming techniques in the timeshare resale industry can be vulnerable to scammers in other industries. Unfortunately, no industry is safe from scammers; and as licensed real estate brokers we must practice what we preach to our clients and research carefully – especially when it comes to answering unsolicited emails and cold-calls.
Scammers rely on their victims to trust them while creating a sense of urgency by utilizing authoritative language and making veiled threats. Without conducting careful research of your own and taking the time to cross-check references, you could find yourself the victim of an identity theft scam.
Florida Real Estate Broker Targeted
The following example illustrates something we advise our potential clients all the time: Do Your Research.
According to a warning statement issued by DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson, a “real estate broker recently received an unsolicited email claiming his brokers’ licenses were the subject of disciplinary action from an entity posing as (DBPR).”
The broker was advised to call a toll-free number and provide personal identification information to an “investigator with DBPR.” Of course, DBPR did not send the email, nor was the phone number in any way related to DBPR.
In his warning statement, Lawson asks real estate licensees not to respond to any email in which DBPR warns of a disciplinary action, and not to call any phone numbers listed in the email.
Instead, licensees should call DBPR’s official phone number as listed on their website: at 850.487.1395 with any questions about the status of their license and/or to report a potential identity phishing scam.
Florida Ranks First in Identity Theft
Scammer attacks on licensees represent the latest twist for identity theft scammers, an increasingly sophisticated crime. Florida ranks first per capita in identity theft complaints nationwide and sixth in fraud complaints according to the Consumer Sentinel Network.
Contact agencies directly if something doesn’t seem quite right, never give out personal information without verifying credentials, and like we always say, never pay money up front for any services. Instead visit official websites to get contact information and use references like the FREC, DBPR and BBB to ensure legitimacy.