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Protect Your Nest Egg: Scam Prevention for Florida Retirees

Scams against Florida seniorsBy: Amanda Dorio, Esq.

In a recent article by NBC6 South Florida, the FBI reported that Florida ranks second in the United States for elderly fraud losses, with over $180 million reported in 2023. Seniors over 60 in the Sunshine State suffered losses of more than $90 million to investment schemes, $51,496,415 to tech support scams, and over $40 million to romance scams last year.

With over 101,000 Americans aged 60 and older falling victim to digital fraud last year, the need to protect our senior citizens has never been more urgent. Here are some essential tips and strategies to help elderly Floridians safeguard themselves against scams.

Be Cautious with Personal Information

Seniors should be extremely cautious about sharing personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, and passwords. Scammers often pose as legitimate entities to extract this information. Always verify the identity of the caller or sender before sharing any personal details.

Recognize Common Scams

Understanding common scam tactics is crucial. Some prevalent scams targeting seniors include:

  • Investment Schemes. Fraudsters promise high returns with little risk. Always consult with a financial advisor before making any investments.
  • Tech Support Scams. Scammers pose as tech support and claim your computer is infected. They then ask for remote access or payment to fix the issue.
  • Romance Scams. Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites to build relationships and then ask for money.

Verify Before You Trust

Before acting on any unsolicited communication, whether it’s a phone call, email, or letter, verify the legitimacy of the source. Contact the company or individual directly using a verified phone number or email address.

Use Strong Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Create strong, unique passwords for online accounts and change them regularly. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an added layer of security. This makes it harder for scammers to gain access to your accounts.

Educate and Stay Informed

Continuous education on the latest scams and how to avoid them is vital. Attend community seminars, read articles, and participate in online webinars focused on fraud prevention. Knowledge is a powerful tool against scammers.

Monitor Financial Accounts Regularly

Regularly reviewing bank and credit card statements can help seniors detect unauthorized transactions early. Set up alerts for any unusual activity to stay informed in real-time.

Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Offers

Be wary of unsolicited offers, whether they come via phone, email, or door-to-door sales. Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency. Take your time to evaluate the offer and consult with trusted individuals before making any decisions.

Report Suspicious Activity

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam, report it immediately. Contact local law enforcement, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Prompt reporting can help prevent further losses and assist authorities in tracking down fraudsters.

Bottom Line

Protecting elderly Floridians from scams requires vigilance, education, and proactive measures. By following these tips and staying informed about the latest scam tactics, seniors can better safeguard their financial well-being and enjoy their retirement years without fear of fraud. Remember, the key to prevention is awareness and prompt action.

For more information on how to protect yourself or your loved ones from scams, visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission. Stay safe and informed, and help spread awareness to protect our elderly community.

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