Is It Time to Declare Your Financial Independence?

If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam artist who is trying to steal money or personal information, you are not alone. According to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, older Americans lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually to fraud and exploitation, a number that is probably substantially under-reported.*

Most scams start with a call, an email, a text, or an official-looking letter that appears to be from a government agency or a legitimate company. Sometimes the scam artist will go door-to-door soliciting business or donations to charity.

Scam artists are very good at gaining the trust of well-meaning people by convincingly impersonating someone authoritative, knowledgeable, or trustworthy - such as an IRS agent, a tech repair person, or even a relative. They play on your sympathy or make convincing threats to pressure you to go along with a scam. "Send money or provide personal information right now," they say, "if you want to help someone or prevent something bad from happening." Here are some typical scenarios.

1. IRS Scam: "You owe back taxes and penalties. Send payment immediately via a wire transfer, or you will be arrested."
2. Sweepstakes scam: "Congratulations, you've won a prize! To collect it, provide us with your bank account number so we can deposit a check."
3. Grandparent scam: "Hi Grandma, it's me. Don't you recognize my voice? I've been in an accident and need money for car repairs. Send gift cards, and don't tell anyone because I'm embarrassed."
4. Home repair scam: "I was just doing some work down the street for your neighbor, Bob, and I saw that you need some shingles replaced. I can do that for half the price I usually charge if you pay me in cash today."

If you are targeted, never give out personal information or send money. You do not need to make a quick decision. Call a friend, a relative, or the police for advice. Report the scam immediately to a fraud hotline such as the Senate Committee's toll-free hotline - 1-855-303-9470.

*U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, 2019.

This information, developed by an independent third party, has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. This information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. The material is general in nature. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. does not provide advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues. These matters should be discussed with the
appropriate professional.