Florida CFO talks with local seniors about financial scams

Sean Dugas - Pensacola News Journal

sdugas@pnj.com

April 23, 2009

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink visited the Bayview Senior Citizens Center at Bayview Park this afternoon and spoke with seniors about combating financial fraud.

The seniors, including Betty Shearer, 88, took time from their bingo game to talk with Sink about buying annuities, reverse mortgage fraud and other scams targeting seniors.

“I got into a reverse mortgage, and now the finance charges are eating up my equity,” Shearer said. “The agent didn’t give us a true picture. She said if I signed, I could lock in a lower interest rate, but that wasn’t true.”

The number of complaints from Florida seniors regarding fraudulent annuities has nearly quadrupled in the past three years, Sink said.

Sink created the Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force to develop solutions to help protect Florida’s seniors from falling victim to similar scams.

“It is very easy to get snookered by an unscrupulous agent,” she said, speaking to a group of about 25 seniors. “You should always ask for a second opinion to verify the agent’s information.”