Please Be Aware
From Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Deep in the Heart of Taxes
Can you hear me now? In the time it takes for you to answer that question, you could have already fallen victim to a scam. Tax season has arrived and for some of us, filing our taxes may not be the most burdensome of tasks, but that can quickly change as scammers and fraudsters are more active now than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, Floridians are often targeted by scammers as our high number of senior residents are among the most likely to be targeted. February is Senior Independence Month and while conversations with our parents and grandparents about their independent living and home safety may have already begun, we must remember that discussing how to protect our seniors' finances is equally as important.
Recent reports show that consumers lose about $50 billion each year to scammers, with phone scams targeting seniors accounting for a large percentage of that total. History has shown that phone scams seem to be the easiest to orchestrate, but there are many ways consumers can be scammed via email, postal mail or even face to face.
Here are some of the most recent scams that have been used to target seniors:
- "Can You Hear Me Now?" - Callers claiming to be from the IRS ask the question, "Can you hear me now?" The scammers record the consumer's response and if the consumer says "Yes," the caller hangs up and calls back. During this second conversation, the caller asks the consumer if they are aware of money that is owed and that the consumer must provide payment. The caller then uses the previous 'yes' recording to manipulate the phone records to show false proof of the consumer acknowledging and agreeing to provide the payments.
- Grandparent Scam - Callers claim to be a grandchild who has been arrested in another country and needs money to get back to the U.S. Callers warn that telling mom or dad can make the problem worse, and consumers are asked to wire money to any number of overseas locations.
- Debt Collection - Via telephone call or postal mail, phony debt collectors demand money to cover unpaid debts. Often times, consumers are threatened with legal action if payments are not made. The Department has a wide range of free resources and information to ensure our seniors are protected from the scammers who seek to defraud them. If you're interested in learning more through one of our live "Be Scam Smart" workshops, visit our Operation S.A.F.E (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) webpage to sign up for a workshop near you.
The Department has a wide range of free resources and information to ensure our seniors are protected from the scammers who seek to defraud them. If you're interested in learning more through one of our live "Be Scam Smart" workshops, visit ourOperation S.A.F.E (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) webpage to sign up for a workshop near you. In addition to our workshops, I encourage all Florida families to visit our Your Money Matter$ webpage this month to become familiar with the Department's multiple videos and scam fact sheets to help inform, empower and protect yourselves and your loved ones from those who may wish to steal from them. An informed community is a better-protected community and we all have a part to play.