Posted on Jun 13, 2014
Fraudsters and scam artists have targeted Florida in full force this year, and now that summer has arrived, there is no letting up. In fact, they are becoming more desperate and aggressive. They have been calling seniors and retirees all around the state, from Longwood to Tallahassee, and even seniors living in small sleeper enclaves in the Florida Panhandle area.
Fraudsters and scammers have joined the ranks of being the most annoying and miserable summer-blood-suckers in Florida. They are communicating by email, phone, and some are knocking on our doors.
Lately, our TV stations are full of news concerning phone scams, ATM skimmers, or news about vendor-compromised-card numbers and personal information. This news never knocked on my door, until this early summer.
An old friend and retired teacher got a call on a late afternoon in early June. The caller identified himself as being a government employee, who then transferred him to another gentleman. This second guy told him there were problems with his 2008 Federal tax return and that he needed to come up with $1000. If he sent the money, he would stop the Feds from going to his house and arresting him. The scary part was that the man on the line knew his street address. Before the retiree hung up on the fraudsters, the scammer told him individuals were close by and they were coming over to arrest him in 30 minutes.
They day before my older friend’s incident, I received a call, but was not able answer. They did not leave a message. I checked the number and decided to call. When the connection came through, the line connected to a recorded audio message, “You have a collect call from overseas. Will you accept charges?"
I decided not to respond nor press any buttons. After a few seconds, the connection switched me over to “my bank’s” regular recording which asked me to enter my card account ID number and my password. How did they know my bank’s name? I hung up without entering any numbers. Wow! I had just been a target of a scam.
Yard Work/Home Repair Scammers-
These scammers will drive around neighborhoods looking for elderly people living alone. They will drive by their intended target’s home, possibly more than once. Finally, they will stop at the senior’s home to offer to do yard work or home repairs. They are unctuous. In fact, they will generally use terms of endearment or act like there is no one else in the whole world that can help…
“Knock on the Door” Scam-
These scammers will drive by during the day, when everyone in the neighborhood is at work or away. They will knock on your door until they get an answer. Often, they will want to distract you and get you to engage into a conversation. At times, this may just be a way to find out if anyone else is at home. Don’t open the door. If they do not leave, and proceed to walk around your property, contact your nearest law enforcement office.
Jury scam news has been on local TV stations since earlier this year. Scammers have been calling individuals living in Central Florida. They tell their intended target that there is a warrant out for their arrest because they did not appear for jury duty, and in order to prevent the arrest her or she will have to pay a fine. Their intention is to get victim to pay over the phone and to release relevant personal information.
These scammers are reaching their victims by email, by phone or both. They send an email with what may look like a legitimate bill or note from a utility company. At times, they will ask the victim to click on a link to enter another website and during that interim they will install malware. This type of scam was also listed in the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ website, and in their March/April 2014, Elder Update newsletter (pg. 10.)
- When speaking with someone on the phone, do not give out valuable personal information
- Shred documents with personal information before throwing these away in the trash bin.
- Keep your computer security system up to date
- Do not share passwords with anyone
- If you have been a victim of a scam contact your nearest law enforcement agency
Senior Helpers of Orlando understands how some local seniors can fall prey to unscrupulous criminals. Scams can happen to anyone. We hope these tips will help you be more secure.
If you or a loved one needs home health care, do not hesitate to call Senior Helpers of Orlando at 407-628-4357. We will be glad to help.
Ana P. DeLane
Senior Helpers of Orlando Team Member