Seniors told to "not trust anybody" at fraud prevention forum

10/19/11 Josh Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Identity theft and fraud are a threat to many people these days, but seniors can be especially vulnerable. Yesterday members of Florida’s Department of Financial Services visited the Sunshine Center in St. Petersburg to help seniors stay alert.

Carol Radin is with the Office on Aging for the City of St. Petersburg, and said that seniors in particular need to be aware of scams and fraudulent offers in the mail.

Some scammers make a career out of stealing people’s information. Sherri Lanham is an inspector for the US Postal Inspection Service. She said that one scammer had taken people’s personal financial information, but then tries to shred the evidence.

But she said that buying just any shredder isn’t enough.

The culprits behind fraud can often be found in plain view, operating as insurance agents. John Wolmer is a Lieutenant with the Division of Insurance Fraud, and he works in the Florida Department of Financial Services. He said that sometimes insurance agents will pocket premiums, while only pretending to sign up customers for a policy.

And he said that even agents with 20 years of honest work have been known to change their ways for the worse, especially if gambling or other addictions play a role in their lives. One elderly woman complained that her HMO was supposed to cover all of her medical expenses, but he physician still demanded a co-pay. Insurance Specialist Janet Schopp is with the Bureau for Consumer Outreach, and said that anyone with questions like this should call them first.

Norm Wagner lives in St. Pete, and appreciated finding out who to call in case he had any doubts.

For questions about a fraudulent insurance company, Janet Schopp recommends that they go to Or if a medical practice is at fault, she said to contact the Agency for Healthcare Administration at

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