This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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Residents of Boca Raton are often preyed upon by phone scammers. The average income and wealth level combined with an older demographic mix make Boca Raton a ripe target. Scummy phone scammers call some Boca Residents frequently, often with the same scam over and over. They’ll try hard to keep you on the phone, but if you want a way to quickly discover whether they’re scamming or not read on. This technique will often make the most persistent, rude telemarketer hang up quickly.
Even though Florida has laws restricting telemarketing, scammers can call from out of state and disguise their phone numbers. Someone in Georgia or India can make themselves look like someone local with a 561 area code or even classic Boca extensions like 395, 392, or 368. The FTC has some general guidelines for recognizing and reporting phone scams.
The Lowest: The Grandchild Scam
Older residents of Boca Raton are often preyed upon by the “grandchild scam”. This is where a scammer calls an older person, hoping that victim has some kind of dementia, and pretends to be their grandchild. “Hi, I’m your grandson Jeff and I’m in jail in Mexico” or something horrible like that. It must work on some level; these scammers who prey on older folks in the twilight of their independence must have some success getting away with it. These are the most heinous types of scammers, a type that can only be thwarted through awareness. These scammers prey upon their victim’s inability to detect a scam. Loved ones and caretakers should monitor or limit who can contact their elderly relative to help prevent this kind of scam. You can report these kinds of scams here.
Scammers prey upon businesses and taxpayers by pretending to the the IRS. They claim the victim is late in taxes and that they’re due immediately in order to avoid jail. The IRS will never call without many written notices. This scam preys upon people’s natural paranoia they they’ve somehow violated the voluminous tax codes we have for both business and personal taxes in the US. If you or anyone you’re caring for has been preyed upon by scammers pretending to be from the IRS report them here.
The Seemingly Innocent: The FPL Scam
Homeowners “who spend over $100 a month on electricity” are being called by firms that claim to be FPL. Their goal is to send someone out to your home to do an “evaluation”. They mention savings, and solar and all sorts of other things that sound great. But be careful: if they really do represent FPL, and they’re really working for your benefit and on FPL’s behalf, then they’ll be glad to do something a phone scammer won’t. How do you know whether it’s a legit FPL program meant to help you or a phone scammer pretending to be FPL? Here’s how:
The Secret To Quickly Detecting a Phone Scam
Here’s what you do if you think a phone caller is working a scam: ask the telemarketer what the website address of their program or organization is. Ask:
What’s the U.R.L. so I can learn more? *
If they’re sincerely trying to help you then they’ll be happy to tell you about it. Sometimes people need time to read things over; a legitimate organization will know that and direct you to the website immediately. If the organization isn’t legit, they aren’t FPL for example, then they won’t have a web address to give you. If, when asked for the web address of their program or campaign they instead say “I’m the website” or “We don’t operate on the web.” then you can be certain the caller isn’t legitimate.
Not every customer can hear – some rely on written correspondence and can’t have phone conversations. Even for the smallest program FPL would be promoting they’d have a web page designed to tell customers more about it. Any legitimate program operating for your benefit, not scamming their audience, will always have a website to back up their goals. It’s not extra – it’s mandatory.
*The proper way to pronounce it is as an acronym saying each letter U – R – L. You can pronounce it “earl” if you want to be a hipster. U.R.L stands for “Universal Resource Locator” as in “how do I get to that webpage – what’s its address on the internet?”
Do you know about other kinds of phone scams people should be warned about? Please tell us in the comments below. Share your experiences with BocaWatch readers so they don’t get scammed in the future.