Learn to Spot, Avoid Fraud Schemes

Posted on 02/29/24 by The AARP Bulletin

Barbara Smith of Milwaukee was doing housework when her phone rang. The voice on the other end claimed she had been summoned to appear in federal court and needed to pay $2,000 to cancel a warrant for her arrest.

Smith, 57, didn’t have that kind of money and told the man so. He said “the judge” wouldn’t go lower than $500. When she asked for the caller’s name, he hung up.

“It scared me,” Smith says. “I was shaking. I think I knew it was a scam, but I was so nervous, it wasn’t registering.”

Smith is among tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents targeted each year by scammers. To help residents learn how to identify fraud schemes, AARP Wisconsin is sponsoring a Scam Jam on Saturday, April 20, at the Trade Hotel, 420 W. Juneau Ave. in Milwaukee.

The event will feature speakers who will discuss the latest fraud tactics, as well as a resource fair with organizations that focus on fraud prevention.

“We know scams are only going to continue to evolve,” says Courtney Anclam, AARP Wisconsin senior program specialist.

In addition to calls from fake government officials like the one Smith received, the public needs to watch out for romance scams on social media, fake calls or texts from impostors posing as friends in need of money, and shopping deals that are too good to be true, Anclam says.

Con artists believe that “older people are less familiar with technology and social media, and that they have retirement savings,” she adds. “They’re prime targets for those reasons.”

To register for the upcoming Scam Jam, go to events.aarp.org/mkeScamJam24. AARP also has volunteers who give fraud prevention talks. To schedule one for your community group, call 866-448-3611 or email wistate@aarp.org.

—David Lewellen

This story is provided by AARP Wisconsin. Visit the AARP Wisconsin page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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