My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As the saying should go, there are only two constants in life: change and growing older. As our grandparents, parents, and even we grow older, many families will engage in conversations about whether or not our loved ones can remain independent. In addition to dialogue about health and happiness, there is an ever-growing need for conversation about how to protect the seniors in our lives from falling victim to a fraud or scam.

Florida is widely known for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and low taxes—all of which make our state an attractive location for those in their retirement years. However, because they’ve worked for years to save up the nest egg needed to retire, it’s important to arm our seniors with information so that they can protect themselves from scammers who target them for that very reason.

Our seniors are inundated with investment offers and requests for charitable contributions and it can be hard to tell which offers are legitimate and which are potential scams. February is Senior Independence Month, which makes it a great time to remind Floridians about the tools and tips we have available to help make seniors scam smart.

Here are just a few of the scams that are known to target seniors:

  • Jamaican Lottery Scam – Anonymous callers say that you’ve won the Jamaican Lottery and can claim your prize by paying a small fee to cover the taxes and fees associated with your winnings.
  • Grandparent Scam – Callers claim to be a grandchild who has been arrested in another country and needs money to get back to the U.S. Callers warn that telling mom or dad can make the problem worse, and consumers are asked to wire money to any number of overseas locations.
  • Debt Collection – Via telephone call or postal mail, phony debt collectors demand money to cover unpaid debts. Often times, consumers are threatened with legal action if payments are not made.

Operation S.A.F.E.From videos on our website to fact sheets about warning signs to live "Be Scam Smart" workshops, our Department has lots of information available—for free—to anyone who wishes to use it. It all boils down to this—an informed consumer is a better-protected consumer. Families can rest a little easier knowing their loved ones have the information they need to ask tough questions of those who may propose offers that sound too good to be true.

I encourage all Florida families to visit our Your Money Matter$ webpage this month to help inform, empower and protect yourselves and your loved ones from those who may wish to steal from them. If you’re interested in learning more through one of our live “Be Scam Smart” workshops, visit our Operation S.A.F.E or Stop Adult Financial Exploitation webpage to sign up for a workshop in your area or to request one in a location near you!


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Black History MonthJonathan GibbsFebruary is Black History Month

Jonathan C. Gibbs

First getting involved in state politics in 1868, Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs was a remarkable Floridian. As only the third African-American man to graduate from Dartmouth, Gibbs became active in both the abolitionist and Underground Railroad movements. After completing missionary work across the Carolinas, he came to Florida where he served as one of 18 African-Americans elected to the State Constitutional Convention. Gibbs went on to serve as the first African-American Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction in Florida, making tremendous improvements to the public school system.

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