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Hang Up on Tech Support Scams

Your computer is fine

 Over the past year, two-thirds of consumers have experienced the tech-support scam.

Have you ever had one of those phone calls where the person claims they’ve detected a virus in your computer? The callers claim to be from Apple, Microsoft or another reputable tech company. They do their best to convince you that all your valuable, personal information is at risk or that someone is about to steal all your files. They try to scare you and confuse you with a lot of technical jargon. Then, out of the goodness of their hearts, they will kindly offer to walk you through a set of steps to fix it. All you have to do is pay them a modest fee (which you can conveniently put on your credit card) or give them remote access to your computer, and they will fix it for you.


Over the past year, two-thirds of consumers have experienced the tech-support scam.

Americans have lost an estimated $1.5 billion to scammers posing as tech company employees, but no matter what tactic they use, scammers have one purpose — to take your money.
If you get one of these calls, don’t fall for it. Your computer is fine. This is a scam, pure and simple. Hang up immediately! This “tech support scam” is the latest in a long list of tricks scam artists use take your money and gain access to your personal financial information — and evidently, it works.
A survey released in October by Microsoft found that over the past year, two-thirds of consumers have experienced the tech support scam — and 20 percent of them fell for it, losing an estimated $1.5 billion.

Everyone is a vulnerable target, from tweens and teens to boomers and seniors. That’s why AARP’s Fraud Watch Network has launched a major campaign to raise awareness of the tech support scam (aarp.org/TechScams), as well as tips and advice on how to prevent you and your loved ones from being tricked.

Make no mistake, these thieves are good at what they do. It’s easy to be fooled. They’ll ask you for your credit card number, they’ll trick you into installing malware that could grab your personal and financial data, or they’ll try to enroll you in worthless computer maintenance or warranty programs.

Their schemes are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Some hijack Caller ID, making it look as if a company you respect or are familiar with is actually on the line. And they’re always one step ahead. They know you’ll be going online to check them out, so they make sure they show up high in search results by placing ads or paying to boost their ranking so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate businesses.

You might also see a pop-up ad on your computer screen, filled with warnings that your device is infected or malfunctioning. Don’t fall for it. Close the box without clicking on any links.

Tech support swindlers have been around since the dawn of the digital age, but as security experts step up efforts to stop them, the scammers find more sophisticated ways to get around them.

Through the AARP Fraud Watch Network (which is a free resource available to people of all ages) you can get the latest information on frauds and scams, prevention tips from experts and access to a free helpline (877-908-3360) to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling. The best way for us to avoid being victimized by these scammers is to become aware that they exist, and to learn all we can about how to prevent and avoid them. Working together, we can expose their dirty tricks and put them out of business.

Phone Fraud is Bigger Than Ever

Unsolicited calls totaled 29 billion in 2016

 FOR AS LONG as there have been telephones, there have been crooks trying to call and steal your money. What is new is the sheer volume of unsolicited calls that Americans endure each year — over 29 billion in 2016 alone by one estimate, including lots of potential rip-offs. No wonder fraud complaints have increased nearly 60 percent since 2010, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Scams are continuing to show up across the country this year.

The IRS scam

The voice on the other end of the line claims to be an IRS criminal investigator. Arrest is imminent if you don’t immediately pay thousands of dollars in back taxes. Individuals are instructed to put $500 on multiple iTunes gift cards and give up the 16-digit codes. Don’t be fooled. The IRS would never ask a taxpayer to buy iTunes cards for any reason.

Computer Caper

Internet scam artists create little boxes that pop up on your computer screen, telling you that you have a virus and need to call for technical support. Don’t believe it. Computer companies never notify customers of a problem through pop-ups, unless it is from virus-protection software that you installed.

The Fake Sheriff

You get a call from someone posing as a sheriff’s deputy claiming you’ve missed jury duty and owe the county a $1,000 fine. Pay immediately, the caller says, or you will go to jail. Rest assured, no sheriff or court will call you and demand payment like this for missing jury duty. If you get this call, hang up, then call the police and report it.

Lottery Fraud

A con artist calls and tells you that you have won the Australian (or Jamaican) lottery. All you have to do to collect is wire $1,500. Don’t do it. Lotteries never call to give money to people who haven’t even bought a ticket.

Credit Card Con

You get a call from your bank that there is a problem with your account. To straighten it out they need your account number, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. Hang up. This is a scam to get information to hack your account.

 How to Stop Fraud

When Phonies Phone

Don’t let crooks scare you off from answering a call.

1. Do some research. Google the salesperson and company before you buy. Explore their reputations thoroughly. If you can’t locate solid information, walk away.

2. Don’t react out of fear. No matter how threatening or urgent their script, do not act immediately. Always hang up and give yourself time to think it over and check them out.

3. Trust your instincts. If a caller sounds fishy, hang up. The chances of losing out on a great deal are much less than losing your nest egg.

 

 


10 Ways to Protect Yourself From ID Theft

With someone’s identity stolen every two seconds, identity theft is one of the most pervasive crimes in the world. But it’s also one of the easiest to protect against. AARP Fraud Watch Network Ambassador and expert Frank Abagnale offers 10 easy steps to help beat identity thieves:

Subscribe to the AARP Money Newsletter for more on finances, scams and fraud

  • Lock your mailbox. If yours doesn’t lock, you can buy a lockable mailbox starting at around $40.
  • Leave nothing of value in your parked car to tempt identity thieves. This means your wallet, laptop and mobile device.
  • Don’t just toss your sensitive documents in the trash or recycling bin – shred them first.
  • Use a micro-cut shredder – the kind that shreds documents into confetti – to destroy your sensitive documents. Micro-cut shredders cost around $30.
  • Secure your smartphone with a password. An AARP survey found that more than a quarter of adults with smartphones fail to protect them with a password. When you set your password, avoid those that would be easy to guess, like birthdates, kids’ names, pet names or numbers in a sequence (1,2,3,4).
  • Secure your computer by regularly changing passwords to reduce the risk of online identity theft. Experts suggest changing passwords at least every three months.  Consider creating a passphrase – something easy to remember but hard to crack. For example, take the slogan “Just do it!” Take out the spaces, change the “o” to a zero and the “i” to a one, and you have “Justd01t!”
  • Don’t share your Social Security number unnecessarily. Only share it for tax reasons, obtaining credit, and to verify employment.  And don’t carry your Medicare card unless you are on your way to a health care appointment. Instead, make a copy and black out all but the last four digits. This is enough information for a provider to get started in case of emergency.
  • Use a gel pen to write out checks. Mail thieves can wash off ballpoint pen and rewrite the check.
Fraud Watch Network
  • Use strong passwords to protect financial accounts. Consider a passphrase rather than just a passcode or password.
  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone, over the internet or through regular mail unless you initiated that contact. If you receive a communication by someone claiming to be your financial institution, don’t respond. Instead, contact the institution with a number you know to be correct.

Have you been scammed or have you spotted a scam? Share your story on AARP’s interactive Scam-tracking Map. You can also visit the map to read up on law enforcement alerts about scams and fraud in your area.


It’s the season of giving but con artists are taking.

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for scammers and many Americans are putting themselves at risk. Don’t be one of them.

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from holiday scams:

Check the charity: Before donating to a charity, make sure it is registered with the Secretary of State and ask how much of the money goes to the charitable fundraiser and how much goes to the charitable purpose.

Skip the rack: Only purchase gift cards from reputable sources. Better yet, get them directly from the store they’re from—and preferably directly from the store cashier—and ask them to scan the card to ensure it has the correct balance.

Surf safely: Do not use public Wi-Fi to check sensitive financial information, or to make purchases using your credit card.

Sign off: Require a signature on all package deliveries. You can also write specific instructions for the delivery company on where to leave your package, and don’t forget you can always have your package delivered to you at work.

Use credit: Use a credit card instead of your debit card when making holiday purchases.

Don’t stress: Pay special attention to your health and well-being during the hectic holiday season. Research shows that people experiencing an illness, loneliness or financial difficulties are less able to spot and avoid scams.

Beware of deals: Watch out for deals offered by companies with unfamiliar websites. Look for reviews on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau or even search the retailer’s name and “scam” to see if it checks out before giving your payment information.


A Look Back at 2016

From AARP

 

Scam artists have been out in full force in 2016, relying on tried and true scams to bilk billions from unsuspecting victims. Here are some of the most frequently reported scams to the Fraud Watch Network hotline:

  • Tech support scam – You get a call from Microsoft (or another tech company) saying your computer has a virus that can be fixed for a fee. Don’t pull out your credit card – simply hang up. Microsoft doesn’t make tech support calls.
  • IRS imposter scam – An official-looking letter from the IRS informs you of taxes you owe related to the Affordable Care Act. The letter instructs you to write a check payable to “IRS” and send it to an address in Austin, TX. The red flag is how the letter instructs you to write out the check – it would be to the U.S. Treasury if the letter were real.
  • Sweepstakes scam – You get a personalized letter that tells you you’ve won a million dollar prize, but you need to pay a fee or a tax in advance to receive the funds. Legitimate sweepstakes will never require upfront payments.
  • Grandparent scam – You get a frantic call in the middle of the night from someone claiming to be your grandchild, saying he’s in a bind and needs money right away. He asks you to send money by wire transfer – the payment form of choice for scam artists.
  • Fake charity scams – A scammer impersonating a real charity contacts you to ask for a donation. This happens a lot around the holidays and following natural disasters.

As always at this time of year, holiday scams abound. Here are some tips and a video on what to watch out for.

As we enter 2017, we’ll continue to alert you to the latest scams and frauds, in the hope that we can all avoid falling victim to these tactics. All the best to you and yours for a scam-free New Year!

Sincerely,Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch NetworkP.S. Spotted a scam?  Tell us about it.  Our scam-tracking map gives you information about the latest scams targeting people in your state.  You’ll also find first-hand accounts from scam-spotters who are sharing their experiences so you know how to protect yourself and your family.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network connects you to the latest information about ID theft and fraud so you can safeguard your personal information and your pocketbook.
Visit the site ›
GET HELP:
If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center at 877-908-3360.
FORWARD TO A FRIEND:
Share this alert with your family and friends so they know how to spot the common strategies scammers use and have the tools they need to defend themselves against their tricks.
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Need To Do Your Taxes?

What to Bring to Your Local Tax-Wise Site

  • Proof of identification (photo ID), You and Your Spouse if Filling Jointly
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for you, your spouse and your dependents if you do not have a Social Security number
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  • All Forms 1095-A, B or C, Affordable Health Care Statements
  • Record of estimated taxes paid in 2015

Palmdale Community Church

FREE TAX Service

1051 East Palmdale Bl

Palmdale.CA. 93550

 Open 08:30 Till 2:00p.m. Tue, Wend & Thur


Do you have Medicare and Medi-Cal?

If so, you can combine all your Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits under one coordinated health plan called Cal MediConnect. You can keep seeing your doctors
and specialists if they are with a Cal MediConnect ptan.

With Cat MediConnect, you’ll only have one card to present at medical appointments, and only one phone number to call for all your health care needs.


Concerned about Fraud?

The AARP Fraud Watch Network provides you with access to information about identity theft, Investment fraud and the latest scams. access online at: aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork 


Fraud Fighters Call Center

Highly trained AARP Volunteer Fraud Fighters are standing by to offer peer counseling, support and referral services to fraud victims and their family members. Call (877) 908-3360


What is POLST?

(Physicians Orders For Life – Sustaining Treatment)

Click here to download the article on POLST that clarifies many misconceptions about POLST.

The POLST Paradigm was developed to improve the quality of patient care and reduce medical errors by creating a system that identifies patients’ wishes regarding medical treatment and communicates and respects them by creating portable medical orders.  While the POLST Paradigm supports the completion of advance directives, clinical experience and research demonstrate that these advance directives are not sufficient alone to assure that those who suffer from serious illnesses or frailty will have their preferences for treatment honored unless a POLST form is also completed.

A key component of the system is thoughtful, facilitated advance care planning conversations between health care professionals and patients and those close to them to determine what treatments patients do and do not want based on their personal beliefs and current state of health. In these conversations patients are informed of their treatment options and, if they wish, their health care professional completes a POLST form based on the patient’s expressed treatment preferences.

POLST is not for everyone; only patients with serious illnesses or frailty should have a POLST form. For these patients, their current health status indicates the need for standing medical orders for emergent or future medical care. For healthy patients, an advance directive is an appropriate tool for making future end-of-life care wishes known to loved ones.  Below are some succinct statements clarifying the POLST Paradigm:

  1. The POLST form is a set of medical orders, similar to the do-not resuscitate (allow natural death) order.  POLST is not an advance directive.  POLST does not substitute for naming a health care agent or durable power of attorney for health care.
  2. The POLST form is for seriously ill or frail patients for whom their physicians would not be surprised if they died in the next year, not for all patients. POLST is not for everyone.
  3. The POLST form is completed as a result of the process of shared decision-making. In it the patient discusses his or her values, beliefs, and goals for care, and the health care professional presents the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment alternatives, including the benefits and burdens of life-sustaining treatment. Together they reach an  informed decision about desired treatment, based on the person’s values, beliefs and goals for care.
  4. The POLST form allows patients to have their religious values respected. For example, the POLST form allows Catholics to make decisions consistent with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, 5th ed. (2009) and ensures that those decisions will be honored in an emergency and across care transitions.
  5. The POLST form enables physicians to order treatments patients would want and to direct that treatment that patients would not want, those they consider “extraordinary” and excessively burdensome, shall not be provided.
  6. The POLST form requires that “ordinary” measures to improve the patient’s comfort and food and fluid by mouth, as tolerated, are always provided.
  7. The POLST form is actionable and prevents initiation of unwanted, disproportionately burdensome extraordinary treatment.
  8. State law authorizes certain health care professionals to sign medical orders; the POLST form is signed by those health care professionals who are accountable for the medical orders.
  9. The POLST Paradigm requires health care professionals be trained to conduct shared decision-making discussions with patients and families so that POLST forms are completed properly.
  10. The POLST form may be signed by the patient or designated decision-maker (HCA, DPOA for Healthcare, or surrogate), but it is not required in all states, although the NPPTF encourages this requirement for all states seeking endorsement. However, shared decision making is a key component of the POLST process.
  11. POLST recognizes that allowing natural death to occur is not the same as killing. POLST does not allow for active euthanasia or physician assisted suicide.

There will be a presentation on October 28th.2015 at 7:00 pm at the Palmdale Regional Hospital the address is 38600 Medical Center Dr, Palmdale, CA 93551.

 

 

 

For any additions, or corrections please email webmaster (Ray Coronado) at aarp.avcmall@gmail.com