In 1989, some of Florida’s most effective crime fighters were
unleashed through the creation of the Attorney General’s Seniors vs.
Crime Project. This Project, sponsored by my Office, allows seniors
to be actively involved in their own and their younger citizens' protection.
The volunteers, known as Senior Sleuths, (1) serve as eyes and ears
to inform my office of current issues affecting seniors, (2) educate
the public about scams and frauds, (3) assist law enforcement as actors
with undercover operations and (4) manage consumer cases referred by
my office or requested of the Project by other sources. These crime
fighters are responsible for recovering millions of dollars for
seniors who were intentional or unintentional victims of con artists
or honest businesses.
Volunteers work throughout the state in locations known as
Offices. More than 3,000 Senior Sleuth volunteers provide important assistance to the
state's crime fighting effort from those Offices or from the comfort
of their homes.
Unethical businesses and individuals may believe that their senior
target is helpless, when, in fact, the "target" may be working for
the Attorney General or local law enforcement in an undercover role.
Few volunteer opportunities permit this level of involvement for seniors in
their own protection.
I am proud to be a partner with these
outstanding citizens. Please give the Seniors vs. Crime Project a
chance to help with your consumer related complaint by calling
1-800-203-3099 or request help through their web site.Pam Bondi
Seniors vs. Crime: IRS Scams
By Valerie Norton
The calls have started. “This is Agent Blank with the Internal Revenue Service.
Who am I speaking with?” “Let me verify your address (they tell you your
address).”Our records show that you owe the IRS a fine. This is very serious and
could lead to your arrest.” Panic sets in. “What can I do?” You ask. And they
proceed with some options. These people are very convincing and will usually
start with “I need you to verify your social security number for me.” Then the
conversation would progress to payment options or plans such as “You can pay
this fine now and avoid any further action. What is your credit card number?” OR
“We can make this easy. Would you like to arrange payments? We can set this up
with your bank. Do you have your checkbook handy?” All of these are ways that
can be used to commit identity theft.
It has been reported that there are variations of this type of scam. The caller
may threaten arrest. They may tell you that your driver's license invalid until
the fine is paid. They may tell you that you could face deportation. They may
even tell you they are putting a lien on your home or business, etc. These scams
are not limited to people claiming to be with the IRS. We have heard about
similar scam calls about jury duty. Let me assure you that you will NOT get a
phone call from the government about owing fines. No matter what your caller ID
says or what information they claim to have (and can verify like your full name
and address), please realize this is a SCAM. Hang up. If you are sincerely
concerned, call the tax office for IRS or the courthouse for jury duty.
These crooks may use other methods of communication as well. We have seen emails
with links to click to make payments as well. One type of computer scam is a
“ransom ware”. This is when you get a pop-up on your computer that states you
need to pay a fine or they will shut down your computer. These pop-ups are all
over the Internet and they will make it so that you can not click anything on
your computer until you deal with that little window. Once you click it, they
collect your information. Some of these have stated that they are “government
fines” for going to a restricted website while others are set around “adult
entertainment sites” and try to shame you into paying a fine so that you avoid
the “public exposure” of arrest. You may not have even gone to an inappropriate
site, but you would rather pay this fine than have anyone think that you have.
Some of those examples are gambling sites, pornography, erotic literature, etc..
What you need to do it shut down your computer by holding the power button and
take it to a computer repair store. DO NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING! These tech experts
can usually fix the problem for a small fee and also talk to you about online
Remember, education is the best way to fight scams. When we know how these
people work, we can educate others in how to avoid or recognize these scams.
Tell your friends about the news you read and spread the word to minimize the
number of victims. Working together, with simple communication, we can shut
these people down. Crooks are always thinking up new and better ways to separate
you from your money. We are working equally hard to keep you informed.
The key to being safe is being educated and aware. You can contact Seniors vs.
Crime if you have questions about scams by calling (904) 721-6516 or (800)
203-3099, or by going online to Seniorsvscrime.com and clicking on the “Request
Help” link on the left.
Writer, Valerie Norton, SVC
Seniors Vs. Crime Project
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