November 14, 2018

AARP Mass Monthly Fraud Update - September 2018

Posted by AARPMASSACHUSETTS

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. 

SCAM ALERT #1:
A new scam is preying on pet lovers: a social media post claims a dog or other animal is in need of a good home usually due to sad or unfortunate circumstances, such as its owner passed away or can’t afford to care for the animal anymore. The pet may be up for a reasonable adoption price, or free to a good home if you pay for it to be shipped to you. However, once the pet is paid for, it never makes its way to its forever home, because there was never a pet for sale in the first place. If you are in the market for a new pet, consider going to your local animal shelter to find a new best friend. The shelter will make sure the pet you get is healthy and up to date on its veterinary care, and you can rest assured you’re giving a good home to a real dog in need.

SCAM ALERT #2:
Recently, people have been receiving phone calls from representatives claiming to be from their utility company. They claim the customer’s bill is overdue and that their power will be shut off immediately unless they pay the bill. The truth is that these “representatives” are just scammers trying to scare unsuspecting folks into paying fake bills through prepaid gift cards over the phone. If you get a call like this, please hang up and call the number you have on file for your utilities company. Your true provider would never call and threaten to shut off your power without having mailed multiple notices in advance, and they will only ever ask you to pay your bill in traditional ways, not through gift cards or other gimmicks.

SCAM ALERT #3:
You get a message through social media from a friend who you’ve known for years. They say that you’re the winner of a fabulous prize, and you only need to pay taxes and fees on a website before you receive the money, vacation or other unbelievable prize. Please be careful! If you pay the money, you’ll never receive the prize. If someone who is your friend in real life sends you a message like that over the internet, give them a call and ask them over the phone if they are the one truly sending the messages. Chances are their account has been compromised and scammers are trying to con you and many of their other friends. By contacting your friend directly, you can ensure they are aware of the problem and hopefully prevent others from being the targets of scams.

SCAM ALERT #4:
In a new scam, fraudsters may send an email that appears to be from a legitimate police department. The email claims that the recipient was caught speeding on a speed camera, and contains a link to pay the fine online. However, these emails and speeding fines are fake and scammers just use this as a way to steal unsuspecting, law abiding citizens’ money or gather personal information to later steal an identity or hack a computer. Remember, many police departments still send citations through the mail, not through email, and many do not accept payment online. If you receive a fine you think is illegitimate, contact your local police department, or search for the supposed police department’s real contact information online, to verify if a citation is fake.

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