In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Attorney General Pam Bondi is offering information on common scams that target senior citizens and tips to help avoid these types of scams. More than 3.2 million seniors call Florida home and thousands more reside throughout the state during the winter months, making Florida a target for scammers who prey on seniors.
“Florida’s seniors deserve our honor and respect. They served in WWII and Korea, made our economy boom and played a major role in strengthening our state and nation,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Anyone who would prey on these great citizens in their golden years is lower than dirt, and my Consumer Protection Division will aggressively investigate anyone targeting Florida seniors.”
The following are some common scams used to target senior citizens:
- Grandparents Scam: Imposters pose as law enforcement officers or attorneys and call grandparents claiming that their grandchild is in jail, then demand immediate payment, often through the purchase of gift cards from major retailers, to bail the grandchild out of jail;
- Jury Duty Scam: Imposters pose as law enforcement officers and call or email a potential victim claiming that they have missed jury duty and claim the potential victim must pay immediately or they will be arrested;
- Utility Scams: Imposters claim to be from a utility company and threaten to turn off power, gas or water unless payment is made immediately;
- IRS Scam: Scammers pose as IRS agents and call or email potential victims claiming that they owe money and unless they pay immediately, they will be arrested; and
- Charitable Solicitation Scams: Imposters pose as representatives of a legitimate charity or create a fictional charity in order to solicit funds.
The following tips can help seniors avoid common scams and fraud:
- Never give money, gift cards or personal information in response to an unwanted or suspicious solicitation;
- If someone claims to be law enforcement, a government representative, an employee of a utility company, or anyone calling in an official capacity, verify employment by ending the call and calling the entity directly;
- Keep checkbooks, debit cards and credit cards in a safe place. Never leave these items in view around the house, particularly if there are other people in the home to whom consumers have not entrusted their accounts;
- Write “request photo ID” on the signature line on the back of debit and credit cards;
- Consider using a banking institution that offers custodial accounts, wherein the bank collects the individual’s income and pays bills; and
- Check account statements regularly to ensure there are no fraudulent charges or withdrawals.
For additional tips and resources, you can view the Attorney General’s guide for seniors, Savvy Consumers Can Stop Fraud. If you are a target of these or any other scam, please contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office at MyFloridaLegal.com or by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM.