Did you know that someone’s identity gets stolen every two seconds? The AARP Fraud Watch Network provides you with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud so you can protect yourself and your family. Our watchdog alerts will keep you up to date on con artists’ latest tricks. It’s free of charge for everyone: AARP members, non-members, and people of all ages. Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam. Report scams to local law enforcement. Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork for more information on fraud prevention.
SCAM ALERT #1: New Year’s Resolution
It’s New Year’s Resolution time. Time to make a commitment to be fraud aware in 2022. For the next 52 weeks, like clockwork, scammers will be on the prowl looking to steal our money or sensitive information. Fraud is at an all-time high, but we can all take steps to help prevent it from happening to us.
Follow some basic measures: only share sensitive information when needed and only with people who you know and trust; don’t click on links to avoid going to a cloned website or downloading malware onto your device; use strong and unique passwords and multi-factor authentication where available; keep your operating system and device protections updated; and if someone asks you to make a payment using a gift card, it is a scam.
SCAM ALERT #2: Credit Repair Scams
If you’re like a lot of Americans, you spent a lot this holiday season and you might be in the mood to tackle your debt in the New Year. Getting yourself out of debt takes time and discipline. Be wary of offers of guaranteed quick fixes.
Con artists prey on consumer’s frustration over finances by offering the keys to getting your finances in order. These offers usually involve up-front fees, bad advice like stopping communication with your creditors and vague details on what services they actually provide. If you need help getting out of debt, turn to an organization like the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
SCAM ALERT #3: Text Scams
If you’re like a lot of Americans, you spend a lot of time deleting scam text messages from your phone. Fraud attacks always spike during the holidays and, according to the call-blocking service Robokiller, scam texts now outnumber fraudulent phone calls. Criminals make scam texts look legitimate. Here is some guidance on how to recognize fraudulent text messages: federal government agencies do not conduct business by text, so that text from the IRS is a fake. Think twice when receiving a text message that instills fear or urgency – these are core fraud tactics. If the message makes you concerned there’s a problem, say with your bank account, utility payments, or retailer account, contact the source in a manner you know to be legitimate rather than clicking the link or calling a number provided in the message.
SCAM ALERT #4: Utility Bill Scams
Winter is upon us and with temperatures plummeting in many areas, keeping the heat on is critical — a fact that scammers try to take advantage of. Each winter, utility scams spike as con artists claiming to be from the utility company will threaten to cut off service if you don’t make an immediate payment.
The faux utility representative may tell you the quickest way to solve the problem is by going to a specific store, picking up a specific gift card, and loading a specific amount of money on it. Then they’ll have you share the account number and PIN from the back of the card. With that info, the criminal is able to drain the card value almost immediately.
Anytime you get an urgent message from a utility company, don’t engage. If you are concerned there may be an actual issue, contact the utility at a number you know to be legitimate.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
This story is provided by AARP Massachusetts. Visit the AARP Massachusetts page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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