November 12, 2019

AARP Massachusetts Monthly Fraud Watch Update for November 2019

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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.

Scam Alert #1: Bank Imposter Scam
A new scam emerged this summer involving criminals posing as bank representatives and offering to pick up a customer’s “compromised” bank card. This scam originates over the phone with the impostor offering to send a ”senior services” agent to the house to pick up the credit card or debit card and PIN so the problem can be fixed. The crook then racks up credit card debt or drains checking accounts attached to debit cards.

Know this: banks don’t have “senior service centers” from which they send bank employees to your home. If you get a call like this, hang up.

Scam Alert #2: Freezing Your Credit
The sheer volume of data breaches makes all of us vulnerable to identity theft. Placing a freeze on your credit is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from identity fraud – when someone uses your information to open accounts in your name, or even take over your existing accounts.

Here’s what to know before you start the process. First, you will have to freeze your credit with each of the three major credit agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You will also need to create passwords and PINs for each, so have a filing system for retrieving the information if you need to unfreeze your credit in the future. If you are placing a freeze for other family members, you will need their Social Security numbers.

Scam Alert #3: Holiday Pet Scams
The holidays are a popular time to add a new furry member to the family, but choosing a pet – especially online - can be tricky and sometimes dangerous. A national survey found that more than 80% of sponsored search sites offering pets for sale were fraudulent in 2017. The websites look legit and the “sellers” will ask you typical adoption questions, but the adorable photos you are falling in love with are stolen from legitimate sites. Once you start paying these scammers, the charges start to pile up for things like last minute medical needs or travel expenses, and the pet you’ve fallen in love with never shows up.

Thoroughly vet any online offering from breeders, shelters or rescue organizations. Better yet, consider adopting locally.

Scam Alert #4: Cyber Monday Scams
Everyone is on the lookout for the best Cyber Monday deal, which means scammers are on the lookout for you. Reported scams from fake shopping websites increased by 30% in 2017, according to Experian. Here are some tips to make sure the hot deal you’re clicking on is really legitimate.

Be suspicious of any discounts larger than 55% off. Irregular contact information, such as a Yahoo or Gmail address instead of a corporate account, is another red flag. Web addresses that are overly complex, don’t include the corporate name or don’t start with https: are also indicators that your data and your money may not be safe.

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