How much money have you lost to “scammers”? Good for you if you can answer “none.” Unfortunately, many seniors can’t say that. We have long known that seniors are a prime target for scammers, and they sometimes succeed in cheating us out of big money. Local news media often report cases like that of a Volusia County resident who paid $18,500 for pool construction that was never done. The company simply announced that it was going out of business on its website while the company’s owner avoided contact. There are multiple other victims with similar stories. A witness told Port Orange police that there was “some sort of understood plan” about the company going out of business, implying that the owner had planned to take the money, never do the work, and go out of business. The media in Florida is full of these stories, often involving seniors who were cheated.
Scams, especially those aimed at seniors, are a big business in Florida. This is an old story, one that we revisit only because the problem continues to grow. Scammers “love” seniors, partly because they know that seniors are likely to have cash assets accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. They also think that seniors may be more naive and less likely to report the crime.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office has recognized this problem, forming an intra-agency group of experts working together to fight senior fraud. This team focuses on protecting Florida seniors against scams of all types. If you have been scammed, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by clicking this link- Citizens Contact Form.
The variety of scams aimed at seniors is so large that we cannot mention them all in a blog article. Instead, let’s mention a few of the scams that commonly victimize Florida seniors and the good sense rules that will stop them.
Contractor/Home Repair Scams – This is a big concern in Florida. Many of our state’s new residents are seniors who move here to retire. They are likely to have purchased existing homes and need repairs or upgrades. Scam contractors prey on this situation, knowing that the victim has little knowledge of building needs or legal requirements. Be aware that the law in Florida requires that if a consumer pays a contractor more than 10 percent of the price for a home improvement, the contractor must get a permit within 30 days and work must begin within 90 days. If this requirement is not met, take action by reporting it to the county licensing board.
Before hiring any contractor, check to see that this person is qualified and licensed to do the type of work involved. Do not blindly hire a person based on internet advertising. You can check license information by using one of the links at this website- Florida Contractor License Search. Beyond this, do a search using sources like the local Better Business Bureau.
Cryptocurrency scams – Yes, seniors have become targets for cryptocurrency fraud. Using mailing lists obtained from legitimate sources or email addresses that have been hacked, scammers send out thousands of communications offering ways to invest in cryptocurrency schemes. They know that seniors are less likely to be familiar with this type of investment but have heard stories of great profits. There are legitimate crypto investment exchanges like Fidelity Investment’s “Fidelity Crypto.” However, you should be extremely skeptical of any unsolicited offer to buy crypto assets. You can check out the legitimacy of any unknown trader by using web resources like Trust Score.
Reverse mortgage scams – Scammers know that seniors are likely to have equity built up in their homes. Reverse mortgages are a way to access that equity. Scammers target seniors with ads in print, the internet, and even TV. Sometimes scammers will come to a home and offer “consultations” to pay for needed (or unneeded) repairs. They persuade elderly homeowners to take out a reverse mortgage and pay for repairs or improvements.
Again, there are legitimate reverse mortgage companies; if you are considering a reverse mortgage, check out the provider using a site like the BBB Reverse Mortgage info page. Beware of anyone using high-pressure sales tactics to sell a reverse mortgage scheme, contractors who suggest a reverse mortgage to pay for repairs, or anyone who claims that they need power of attorney to finalize a reverse mortgage.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is being scammed, you can report it through one of these sites- My Florida CFO or the Florida Senior Protection Team. Thanks for reading our blog. At OurSeniors.Net, we love to bring news you can use and helpful information. We are a senior living resource magazine, so please follow us for senior housing news, living in Florida articles, senior living resources and all-things-senior topics.