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Workshops Against Financial Exploitation Of Seniors Held This Week In Milton And Crestview

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Two events aimed at educating senior Floridians about financial scams will be held this week in the Panhandle. They’re part of the “Be Scam Smart Workshops.”

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and State Rep. Doug Broxson are sponsoring the workshops in Milton and Crestview, as part of the CFO’s statewide “Operation SAFE” – Stop Adult Financial Exploitation initiative. Broxson says he and Atwater consider the matter a very serious one, in light of Florida’s aging population.

“People want to retire here, but we’re getting older because we’re living longer,” said Broxson. “Unfortunately there are people in our society that prey on the elderly. What we need to do is equip them, their children and their caretakers to make sure that they’re not being taken advantage of.”

Broxson says there are myriad ways that seniors can get ripped off – some of them starting with the victims’ inattentiveness to everyday details such as bank account statements and phone bills.  

The “Be Scam Smart” Workshops – have been run by CFO Jeff Atwater for the past year around Florida. They teach seniors what to look for if a scam is suspected, as well as how they work and what steps to take if targeted. Tasha Carter, who works in the CFO’s office, says part of the workshop will involve one of the most popular schemes aimed at older Floridians: the lottery scam.

“They receive a telephone call, a letter in the mail or an email, indicating they have won the Nigerian or Jamaican Lottery,” Carter said. “And in order to collect their winnings, they must pay for taxes or other fees that are associated with the winnings in order for them to receive that money.”

Carter says at every workshop they’ve held in the past year, at least one participant has admitted being taken by the lottery scam. But she says despite their embarrassment, they’re stepping up to the plate to warn others.

For state Rep. Doug Broxson, the hope is that seniors attending the workshops can gather information to take back to their families so they can get good financial advice from trusted sources. One of those areas – property repair – is especially important now that hurricane season is here.

The workshops are set for ten o’clock Tuesday morning at the Santa Rosa County Auditorium in Milton, and Wednesday at Warriors Hall on Stillwell Boulevard in Crestview, also at 10:00 a.m. More information is also available at MyFloridaCFO.com/SAFE.