Stuck at home? Avoid falling victim to these scams

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis warns scammers are targeting service members

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Scammers will say or do just about anything to get their hands on your money even during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

That’s why Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer, is warning Floridians about what’s called a card-cracking scam that is preying on people’s need for financial relief.

Patronis said scammers appear to be targeting service men and women, but he noted that anyone can become a victim of this scam if they’re not careful.

With more and more people working from home because of the coronavirus outbreak, Patronis said scammers are not only contacting victims by email but also social media.

“There is going to be a lot of screen time now in our households, so because of that, there is going to be a bigger audience to pick from,” he said. “Scammers know that.”

There are two primary ways a scammer will try to lure people in for this particular scam. The first way is by posting a message for a bogus debt consolidator, and the second is by sending friend requests and then offering unsolicited grant funding.

Patronis said the primary targets in this sort of scam are young service men and women who might be getting an income for the first time. The goal, he said, is to get personal information from victims so scammers can take out loans and credit in their name.

“It’s easy for them to be overwhelmed because they’re learning their financial boundaries,” he said. “Because of that, they become an incredible target for these scammers that will steal their identity and unfortunately take advantage of them.”

The key, Patronis said, is not taking the bait. So while we’re all stuck at home, be sure to avoid clicking any links that seem too good to be true.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has this advice for anyone who believes they’ve been targeted by a scam:

  • Never start a conversation or click anything that may look like a scam. If you do, stop corresponding immediately;
  • Notify your bank and attempt to have your accounts locked;
  • Change all account passwords;
  • Consider a credit lock through one or all three of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion).

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