Florida Is A Hotbed For Phone Scams, But The Government Cannot Protect Everyone

YouMail released a report on the trend of telemarketing scams in the United States, and the data ranked Florida fifth on the list of states where residents get the most scam calls and messages. Residents of Florida received nearly 400 million scam calls or an average of 22 scam calls per person. And that is just the first half.

According to the report, most phone scams across the country come from Florida and California, two states with most defendants involved in ongoing proceedings with the Federal Trade Commission regarding their complicity in telemarketing scams and fraud.

Generally, scam call in Florida tend to involve:

The Florida Division of Consumer Services explains these scams – and several others, in detail and how residents can protect themselves.

Of the common scams reported, grandparent scam is the boldest attempt by scammers to defraud senior citizens’ retirement money. The scheme is often elaborate and begins with a caller impersonating a grandchild and agitating the elderly with stories of trouble. The caller then makes a desperate plea for monetary assistance from the unsuspecting grandparent.

  • Advance Fee Loan Scams
  • Charitable Donations Scams
  • Debt reduction scams
  • Grandparent scams
  • IRS scams
  • Online purchase scam
  • Utility Company scam
  • COVID vaccine scam
  • Law enforcement officer impersonation
  • Federal agent impersonation

Here is where it gets eerily disturbing. Scammers who carry out grandparent scams have the contact information of their victims, including their address! Before making the call, these scammers typically survey and profile their victims. Elders who stay alone or with their equally elderly spouse are more likely to fall prey to these scams than senior citizens who live with younger relatives or caregivers.

When the unsuspecting grandparent accedes to the scammer’s dubious request, they often instruct their victims to make a quick trip to the bank to withdraw cash. Upon their return, the scammers would reestablish contact and direct the grandparents to give the money to a courier. Other payment methods scammers use are gift cards and wire transfers. However, cash seems to be the preferable method to make off with their loot and avoid tracking or identification by law enforcement. According to news reports, the Florida Attorney General’s Office is taking steps to protect the five million senior citizens who call the sunshine state home.

In the meantime, the Office advised seniors not to open their doors to unknown persons – remember scammers often know the residential address of their victims. Furthermore, a reverse phone search is a way to confirm that the caller is indeed your grandchild, the lawyer, or police officer on the other end. A reverse phone search checks the list of registered subscribers on mobile carrier databases in Florida and returns the personal and contact information of the unknown caller.

It is a remarkably effective tool to avoid phone scams generally and to catch your scammer off-guard. With their cover blown, scammers would most likely stop contacting you and remove your number from their scam list. The same applies to a fraudster claiming to call from the Sheriff’s Office and the technical support from a company whose product or service you use – or not.

Likewise, concerned persons may stop nuisance telemarketing calls by listing their numbers on Florida do not call registry and the national registry. Listing your number on this registry will stop legit telemarketers from reaching out to you, but it will not stop robocalls from scammers as well as direct calls from scammers. Stopping robocalls is relatively easy and inexpensive too. Interested persons may install YouMail or RoboKiller to filter their phone calls.

The Federal government and Florida state government, through criminal justice agencies, continue to crack down on the illegal activities of phone scammers. The Federal Trade Commission spearheaded “Operation Call it Quits,” a joint effort with twenty-five (25) federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice.  

The Commission also encourages persons who have been victims of phone scams or contacted by suspected scammers to report the activity. The FTC uses these complaints to investigate and file civil and criminal suits against perpetrators.