Seniors, Have You Been Paying Attention?

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If you’re a senior living in Florida and you want to better safeguard your retirement money, you post on social media, or you answer every email or phone call you receive, you might want to learn a bit more about what has come to the FBI’s attention. In 2021 alone, 92,371 seniors fell victim to fraud and do you know how much value was lost during those scam incidents? $1.7 billion in losses is what that year represented in scams directed at seniors and what’s even more alarming is that it also represents a 74% increase in these types of scams, targeting mainly seniors. 

Now, as of 2023, the FBI has noticed a significant uptick in scams targeting Florida seniors (those over the age of 65). This consists of both phone and online scams and seniors living and retiring in Florida are at the most risk. While scams against older adults aren’t exactly new, the threat is continually rising and the FBI wants to show that these incidents can be prevented…if you pay attention.

“If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Is”

Florida, the place where seniors often flock to for retirement opportunities, has become a hotbed for scammers seeking vulnerable targets. The FBI warns that scammers are cunningly observing seniors’ social media activities and honing in on those who appear financially well-off. Yes, scammers are paying close attention to the social media posts of older adults located in Florida and they adjust their scams based on what they think a senors’ vulnerabilities are. By meticulously building trust over weeks or even months, scammers often convince their victims to download a seemingly harmless app that grants them access to the victim’s computer or even just tricking someone into directly sending them money (which they may often never see again). 

This unauthorized access exposes sensitive information, such as banking details and personal data. If something sounds too good to be true or if you’re noticing that something is out of place when it comes to any of your accounts whether they are banking, savings, investment, or social media accounts, always report it. Make sure you change your passwords, apply additional safeguards, and ask for help when you need it.

Florida: A Hotspot for Scams Against Seniors

According to the FBI Elder Fraud Report, Florida has consistently ranked near the top in terms of the number of victims and the amount of money lost to scams. Shockingly, the total amount lost to scams in the state soared to an unbelievable $3.1 billion just last year and if you remember, the year before that in 2021, we were only seeing $1.7 billion in losses. This jump is so exponential that the FBI is hardening its kick when it comes to intercepting these incidents. 

To make the issue worse, investment fraud, particularly involving cryptocurrency, saw a 300% increase. It is crucial to note that these figures likely represent only a fraction of the actual losses, as many victims do not report their experiences which should raise even more alarm bells. This should also show that more education needs to be delivered to the most vulnerable so that more people know how to handle these types of situations and have more confidence in their reporting.

The FBI has also witnessed a rise in romance scams, targeting lonely seniors seeking companionship. You may have already heard of this type of scam but trust us, it’s not something that seems to be going anywhere any time soon…unfortunately. This type of scam is when scammers exploit emotional vulnerability, building trust with their victims before making heartbreaking appeals for financial assistance. Many seniors fall for this scam and a lot of the time it’s because they just may not know what to look for when determining what is and isn’t suspicious. Because of this and other types of fraud attempts, it’s essential for seniors to remain cautious and to seek information from their financial institutions instead of relying on unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages if they receive anything that looks or sounds like it’s out of the ordinary.

Taking Action As A Florida Senior

In the face of these scams, it’s vital for seniors to adopt proactive measures to safeguard their finances. Although we’ve said this, it’s important to put emphasis on seniors being wary of any unsolicited calls, emails, or messages they get that are requesting personal information or money. If something feels suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and remain on the side of caution.

Remember to report any fraudulent activity immediately. Reach out to your financial institution and it’s even a good idea to report incidents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. This platform not only allows you to file complaints but also provides valuable information about different cyber crimes.

Protecting Yourself and What You’ve Earned

Protecting your hard-earned money and personal information is extremely important and as a senior, you have to realize that you are often a target for scammers. Cyber criminals intentionally look for vulnerable seniors, those that they believe have money, or those that they believe are lonely. By staying informed about the tactics employed by these fraudsters, seniors can arm themselves with confidence in knowing what to do and what not to do. Remember, prevention and being observant are key. 

Always question suspicious requests and always report any fraudulent activity to your bank and the FBI to help them get closer to closing in on these cyber-criminal circles. By doing these simple things you can make using online platforms safer and more secure for yourself.