Top 5 Scams Affecting the Florida Panhandle

Scammers are always finding new ways to damage our trust and take our money. Here are the top five scams in the area night now, thanks to information provided by the Better Business Bureau.

I can fix your roof

What they may say: Unlicensed contractors are going door to door claiming that they can work with your insurance company for a certain amount of money that you give them (we have been told over $1,000 but less than $10,000) they can get 5 times that from your insurance company. These people could have business cards, signs on their vehicle, etc. but that does not make them legitimate. Contractors must be registered in the state they are working in and carry current insurance.

What to do: If someone comes to your door, ask them for their credentials and check them out with the BBB at www.BBB.org or by calling the office (850.429.0002) or call the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850.487.1395 or visit www.myfloridalicense.com.

Your Social Security number has been stolen

What they may say: You answer the phone to someone alleging to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or another government entity. The name on your caller ID may even back up that claim. The caller says your Social Security number has been used to fraudulently apply for a credit card or commit another crime. In order to fix the situation, the caller needs you to confirm your SSN and other personal information.

No matter the details, the stories are designed to induce fear. Scammers hope that under pressure you will tell them your SSN and other sensitive personal information. Scammers can use SSNs to commit identity theft and file tax returns in your name to steal your refund.

What to do: Never give out personal information to unsolicited callers and remember that your caller ID is not full-proof and may not be the caller on the phone. The SSA will never call you and ask to confirm your Social Security number.

Your candidate needs support

What they may say: You receive a robocall and answer the phone. It’s a recorded voice – perhaps even one that sounds just like one of the presidential candidates. According to the recording, rivals have been raising a lot of money. In order to see your favorite candidate elected, you need to donate… immediately. If you offer to give, you’ll be transferred to a live person and asked for your credit card information. But your money won’t go to support the political cause.

What to do: Screen your calls. If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer. Don’t respond to unsolicited robocalls. If you receive an unsolicited robocall that seems to come from a legitimate business, be cautious. Scammers can fake the caller ID results.

Is this job too good to be true?

What they may say: Consumers go online and apply for jobs. They receive an email that they have been hired and after they have given their address/posted their resume with their personal information, a check is sent to them. They are asked to deposit the check and purchase the supplies they will need for their job. They are told there will be extra funds and to purchase pre-paid cards in the amount of that overage and send them to an address they are provided. By the time the check comes back as a fake the consumer is out of the money they sent, the cost of the supplies they purchased, and their bank may charge them for a returned check.

What to do: Be careful what personal information you provide on job websites like Craigs List, Career Builder and Indeed. If you are ‘hired’ without an interview or without specific skills, that is a red flag. Should you receive a check and be asked to do what is mentioned above, either shred the check or take it to your bank and ask them to verify it before you spend any of the ‘money.’

Grandma, I need help

What they may say: We are seeing parents and other family members, in addition to grandparents, being victims of this scam. You receive a call supposedly from your grandchild (or someone calling on their behalf) and they are either in trouble with the law (in jail, etc.), they have broken down and need help with their vehicle, or they have been in an accident and they are in need of medical care. No matter the story, money in the form of either gift cards or wire transfers are needed immediately. As young people are returning to school, their jobs away from home, etc. there has been an increase in reports of this scam.

What to do: Should you receive a call supposedly from your child or grandchild, do not send any money until you verify with their parent or another family member their physical location.

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