February 21, 2019

AARP Massachusetts Monthly Fraud Watch Update - February 2018


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.

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. 

If you were tricked into wiring money to scammers using Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you may be eligible to get at least some of your money back. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice came to a $586 million settlement with Western Union last year. Visit www.ftc.gov/wu to learn more. You can file your petition online or by mail, but do so by Feb. 12, 2018. 

Phishing is when scammers try to trick you into sharing sensitive information. They typically send legitimate-looking e-mail messages from what appears to be a bank, federal agency or service provider requesting that you “verify” personal information. Now that people are catching onto email phishing, scammers have branched out to texting – counting on our tendency to respond immediately to a text message. Whether it’s through your smartphone or instant messaging on a social media site, be wary of suspicious texts. When in doubt, delete. 

Free trial offers often lure you into accepting a free product or subscription, but require you to cancel after receiving your offer. When you don’t cancel, you receive more product, and you’re stuck with the bill. Often the fine print makes it very difficult to cancel in time to avoid a charge. Unfortunately, the tactics are generally legal, unless the seller fails to disclose that you will be charged following the free offer. Be very careful to read the fine print before accepting a free trial, or simply decline the offer. Search online for reviews about the company offering the free trial – you can learn a lot about potential customer service issues this way.

Tech support scams happen over the phone and online. Typically, the goal of the scammer is to take control of your computer remotely, tell you that you have viruses that can be fixed for a fee, then get you to fork over your credit card number. If you get a tech support call out of the blue, hang up. Also, avoid clicking on pop-up notices that say you have a problem with your computer. If you are experiencing a technology problem, call your computer’s operating system tech support.

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.


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