MAGNOLIA SPRINGS — Three Baldwin County lawmakers came together Tuesday to warn citizens about scams targeting the elderly and veterans in the community.

State Reps. Jennifer Fidler (R-Silverhill), Donna Givens (R-Loxley) and Frances Holk-Jones (R-Foley) held a series of meetings with representatives from law enforcement, AARP and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to educate the public about scams they said has cost Alabamians millions of dollars.

Alabama political news scam summit Alabama News
hree Baldwin County lawmakers came together Tuesday to warn citizens about scams targeting the elderly and veterans in the community. Photo: Erica Thomas.

Baldwin County's top three scam reports came from home improvement scams, phishing and advance fee loans. According to the BBB, victims in Baldwin County alone have lost $1,043,014.97.

Fidler said there are also real estate scams where buyers are victimized by purchasing properties that aren't for sale. Scammers produce fake deeds to properties and complete a purchase without the property owner ever knowing about the scam.

Dorothy Dorton with AARP said many scams involve veteran victims. A 2021 survey found that veterans and their family members are 40% more likely to be victims of scams, frauds and schemes than civilians. Many of those scams involve fake charities or scammers posing as charity representatives. She said if you see something, say something.

"If you have knowledge that can help other people, please share it, please report it," Dorton said. "Stay ahead of the criminals."

Alabama Securities Commission public relations manager Nick Vonderau attended the event and warned citizens to watch closely for romance scams, crypto scams, fake checks and even artificial intelligence. He said to never say "yes" on the phone with a possible scammer because they can use your voice to make it appear that you said "yes" to many things.

Other scams include phone scams, in-person sales and moving scams. You can report fraud to the BBB at www.bbb.org and the Federal Trade Commission by going to ReportFraud.ftc.org.

A way to protect your credit is to reach three credit bureaus and freeze your credit. This way, no one can open a credit card or gain a loan in your name. However, to open a new account, you must call to get your credit unfrozen. The three credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The Alabama Attorney General's Office also has a Consumer Affairs Hotline, 1-800-392-5658.

Representatives from the FBI and the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office also attended the Tuesday evening event.

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