May 25, 2020

AARP Massachusetts Monthly Fraud Watch Update for March 2020

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Background:
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: Spring Break Vacation Scams
Despite what the Groundhog says, winter isn’t going away anytime soon. That fact has many of us looking for a warm getaway this spring, but beware scammers could be lurking on the other end of that sweetheart spring break deal. These three tips will help you spot a potential travel scam. First, be wary of any deal that is dramatically lower than what else is available at your destination. Next, verify the legitimacy of online travel sites by looking closely at the web address – scammers often “spoof” legitimate hotels and third party booking sites. Finally, don’t trust anyone who requests a wire transfer or prepaid gift card to pay for your getaway – these are the payment forms preferred by today’s scammers.

Scam Alert #2: Tax ID Theft
Everyone is guilty of procrastinating from time to time, but one place where it doesn’t pay to wait is doing your taxes. Scammers take full advantage of opportunities during tax filing season to make a fast buck. They commit tax identity theft by filing a phony tax return using victims’ personal information to get a refund. To protect yourself against this scam, file your return as early as possible, use a secure Internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.

Scam Alert #3: Consumer Sentinel 2019 Report
The numbers are in. The Federal Trade Commission released its report of fraud complaints from 2019, and scams show no sign of abating. Reported losses amounted to almost $2 billion – and older victims report losing more than younger victims. Impostor scams topped the list – where scammers pretend to be someone they are not to convince you to hand over personal information or money. In fact, government impostor scam reports are up by 50% over 2018. Here’s a tip: that message from the Social Security Administration saying your account has been suspended? It’s a scam. So is the one from your county court saying you face a fine for missing jury duty.

Scam Alert #4: Don’t Miss The Count On Census Scams
It’s that season again. The once-every-decade time when we all try and remember how the decennial census count works. It’s no surprise that there is confusion surrounding the census, but that confusion is something scammers are banking on. Here are a few tips to avoiding census scams. The Census Bureau will NOT send you an email with a link to complete the questionnaire online – if you get such an email, it is a scam. The Census Bureau will never ask you to for sensitive information, like your full Social Security number, bank account number or your mother’s maiden name. Finally, when you do get a mailing from Census to tell you how you can complete your questionnaire, look for the official return address of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Any other address is a scam.

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.

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