Telephone scams target Brevard seniors


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State Attorney Phil Archer is working to help seniors stay vigilant against the threat of telephone scams.

Chris Bonanno

The 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in Viera is encouraging area residents, and in particular seniors, to be vigilant against telephone scams.

There are a couple of scams in particular that State Attorney Phil Archer noted “just don’t seem to go away.”

One involves a call where a would-be scammer informs the person on the other end of the line that a relative is in some sort of trouble and that they must send money to help them. It’s called the “grandparents scam” because it’s generally geared toward seniors.

“Last year, that scam resulted in payments of about $320 million,” Archer said. “That was one of the top scams last year.”

To that end, Archer recommended that seniors screen their phone calls.

“If you can, use an answering machine,” Archer said. “A lot of these scammers, they want to get you on that phone when you first pick up and they start into their pitch.”

Archer stressed the importance of education, noting the difficulty of tracking down suspects and the money they’ve swindled.

“Local law enforcement, very little that they can do,” Archer said. “If you don’t know the face, the names are not going to be real. Local law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to send detectives and agents up to Canada or to Mexico to try to track down your money. For local law enforcement, it’s not going to happen. They’re not going to be able to investigate it.”

Archer added that more information can be found at the State Attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit’s website SA18.org and through its Facebook page. He said the SAO puts out a monthly bulletin online that talks about current scams and provides lists of resources.

The SAO also recommends researching helpful websites to aid against scammers, including annualcreditreport.com, which Archer said can provide an annual report from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies.

He also cited myfloridalegal.com, run by the Florida Office of the Attorney General, and bbbscamtracker.com, which provides up-to-date information on scams.

Additionally, per the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office website, people can obtain more information about frauds by calling the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060.