AARP Massachusetts Monthly Fraud Watch Update for January 2020

Posted on 01/06/20

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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.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network is:

An Educator: Get real-time alerts about the latest scams, tips on how to spot them, and the inside scoop on how con artists think so you can outsmart them before they strike.

A Watchdog: Our nationwide scam tracking map gives you access to a network of people who've spotted scams and the opportunity to pass along your own experiences, so together we can beat con artists at their own game.

A Resource: Get connected to a real live person trained in how to avoid fraud and advise you if you or a loved one has been scammed by calling our fraud hotline or attending a forum in your community.

Free for Everyone: Anyone, of any age, can access our resources at no cost.

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SCAM ALERT #1: NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

It’s New Year’s Resolution time. Time to make a commitment to be fraud aware in 2020. For the next 52 weeks, like clockwork, scammers will be on the prowl looking to steal our money or sensitive information. While there is no way to stop these attempts from happening, we can all take steps to make sure we don’t fall victim. Remember the basics: only share sensitive information when needed with people who you know and trust – like your doctor; don’t click on web links from untrusted emailers; and if someone asks you to make a payment using a gift card, it is a scam.

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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 is hard work. It 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.

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SCAM ALERT #3: PACKAGE THEFT

The holidays may be over, but Porch Pirate season never ends. While at-home deliveries are at their highest over the holiday season, direct-to-home shopping happens every day around the country. Here are some simple steps you can take to safeguard your orders: schedule deliveries for times when you are home; ask neighbors to pick up packages for you if you can’t be home; ask the shipper to put packages out of sight, like on a side porch or under a bush; and use parcel lockers if they are available in your area. Also, be aware of emails claiming a package is being held and the shipper needs more information. These can be phishing attacks meant to capture payment information or to get you to download malicious software.

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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 threaten to cut off service if an immediate payment isn’t made. The goal of these crooks is to create a sense of panic in their targets to act hastily and hand over payment information or even buy gift cards to pay the supposed debt. If you get a surprise visit or call from the “utility company” this winter, ask questions like what your bill history is or what the individual’s employee ID number is, and then follow up to confirm before taking any action.

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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