When it comes to scams in Florida, the state ranked No1. for fraud scams and No.2 for identity theft for the last two years! In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission reported 2.7 million consumer complaints made to the agency.
More than 208,000 consumers in Florida made complaints last year reporting fraud losses totaling $54.7 million. Florida came in second in the country for identity theft. The top categories for scams and fraud are debt collection, imposter scams, identity theft, phone and mobile, and banks and lenders.
Why Are There so Many Scams in Florida?
It is very common for retirees to head south to Florida to live out their golden years. There are also scammers and low lives that see these seniors in the Sunshine State and their nest eggs as the perfect easy target.
To avoid being prey for these expert scammers, please read below to see what you or your loved one can do to prevent becoming the victim for the top seven scams.
1. The Lottery Scam
In the lottery scam, con artists cold call seniors to tell them that they have won the lottery and convince them to pay shipping expenses and other fees to collect their paydays. U.S. law enforcement officials warn that the scammers are usually drug traffickers that threaten and intimidate seniors to sign away their savings.
To avoid this scam, please advise seniors to use their common sense. It is illegal to play foreign lotteries from the U.S. All these calls are fraudulent. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
2. The Medicare Scam
It is not uncommon for seniors to be approached by fraudulent callers claiming that they are authorized or funded by Medicare to offer assistance. These so-called advocates are peddling drugs at a higher price than what Medicare beneficiaries should be paying.
Please be aware that you should never give out your Social Security number, bank account number or any personal information over the phone to anyone that you don’t know. Also, no one should be coming to your door soliciting for Medicare.
3. The Insurance Scam
In 2004, hundreds of Florida retirees were scammed for a total of over 2 million dollars in fraudulent insurance sales commissions. The scammers contacted their victims and persuaded them that they would save a lot of money on their health insurance. This was a bait and switch scheme in which the con artists exchanged the senior’s health insurance for a lower-cost option and then drastically overcharged them.
Do not go through a third party for your health insurance. Talk directly to your provider and review what you are signing. Perhaps have a second set of eyes review your policy as well.
4. The Trust and Annuity Scam
The way this scam works is the scammer does a mass mailing sending postcards to all the senior citizens he can find. The postcard claims that the wills and estates of the seniors are insecure.
Those seniors that reply are then subjected to hours-long in-person consultations during which the scammers convince them to purchase living wills and insurance annuities instead. The victims are then persuaded that liquidation of all assets is the best way to keep their savings.
There is no mention that these changes will result in massive taxes and enormous hourly consultation fees. The lesson here is only trusting a well-known and well regarded financial adviser to take care of your nest egg.
5. The IRS Identity Theft Scam
Florida is a crucial target for this type of scam. Typically, seniors are not technologically savvy. Scammers are selling names and personal information of unsuspecting seniors for $200-$300 each, which are then used to file fraudulent tax returns.
The refunds are on a prepaid money card into the scammer’s accounts. The victims don’t even realize what has taken place until they try to file their taxes.
The way to avoid this identity theft scam is to keep your personal information safe. Unsecured mailboxes is a standard way for scammers to obtain personal information as it is straightforward to access. When on the internet, do not leave yourself logged into your bank accounts, Medicare accounts or credit card accounts when you are finished.
6. The Securities Scam
There are many examples of this type of scam. One example is a Florida based church that asked Christian communities for donations/investments with promises that over a short period, investors who were mainly seniors lost thousands of dollars.
To avoid being scammed in this manner, pay attention to how an investment is presented. Low risk also a good indication that there is no good coming from this investment.
7. The Investment Seminar Scam
Research shows that almost one in five seniors who have lost money on an investment attribute that loss to being misled or defrauded. Many financial advisers will try to attract new business by offering giveaways and freebies to retirees at informational seminars.
Many of the workshops are presented by scammers and violate securities law. They are not educational events even though they are promoted that way.
To avoid participating in a fraudulent investment seminar, do your research and make sure that it is approved by a brokerage or investment firm and has been submitted for approval to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Floridians, Utilize Social Catfish to Avoid Fraud
In conclusion, there are many types of scams, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. The bottom line is you must use caution and be aware of your actions.
If you have an elderly loved one, please look out for them and share your knowledge with them. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Run a reverse lookup using the search bar below to if you think you are being scammed:
If you suspect trouble, contact Social Catfish to look into the suspicious activity and identify the scammer.