Scams & Frauds

 

AARP Fraud Watch


 

Is Public Wi-Fi Safe?

 

Free public Wi-Fi, available at places like airports and coffee shops, are convenient, but can be risky.

How It Works:

Scammers monitor commonly used Wi-Fi network names, and set up their own “evil twin” access points in hopes your computer or device will automatically connect to it without your consent. Or they launch a “man in the middle” attack, by hacking in between you and your Wi-Fi connection. Their goal? To grab your emails, credit card numbers, and passwords.

What You Should Know:

Any data you send over free public Wi-Fi is vulnerable, so be thoughtful about how you use it.

What You Should Do:

  • Ask an employee at the location offering free public Wi-Fi for the name of the network. Don’t just assume that “free airport Wi-Fi” is a legitimate wireless network; it could have been set up by a hacker to trick you into connecting.
  • Stick to browsing the web, checking news, weather, or traffic when on public Wi-Fi.
  • Avoid online banking, checking emails, making credit card purchases or even posting on social media on public Wi-Fi.
  • Check your device’s settings to make sure it doesn’t automatically connect to any free public Wi-Fi that you’re in range of.
  • If you find you use public Wi-Fi regularly, play it safe and sign up for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that keeps your data secure.  Some are free, while others charge a subscription.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

 


 

Beware of Scams by Text

Smishing is when scammers use text messaging to lure targets into sharing credit card numbers and other personal information. The name comes from combining Short Message Service or SMS (the technology used for text messages on cell phones) with phishing.

How It Works:

  • Scammers send hundreds, or even thousands, of text messages at a time in the hope that even just a few recipients take the bait.
  • The text is urgent – you need to click on a link or call a number to deal with an issue like suspicious banking account activity or perhaps to address the suspension of an account or service. Or it could claim you’ve won a prize and you need to act right away.
  • The ultimate goal is to get you to share sensitive information – your bank account number, or user names and passwords – and to use this information to steal from you.

What You Should Know:

  • Scammers are banking on you responding quickly to a text message – we tend to trust them over emails.
  • It’s easy for scammers to make the text look like it’s coming from a legitimate phone number.

What You Should Do:

  • Be wary of unsolicited text messages – when in doubt, delete.
  • Don’t respond to suspicious texts, even to tell them to leave you alone. Responding verifies to the crook that your number is valid, and that puts you at risk for being targeted by other scams.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network


P.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.Forward this alert ›

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AARP Fraud Watch

That Make-A-Wish Foundation Sweepstakes is a Fraud

A new scam is popping up across the country using the name of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

How It Works:

·  The scammer calls from the “Consumer Protection Agency” or the “Federal Trade Commission” to tell you that you have won 2ndplace in a Make-A-Wish Foundation sweepstakes – a $450,000 prize! You just have to pay $4,500 in processing fees to claim your award.

·  Don’t have the cash? No worries! The caller will offer to lend you the money. He just needs your bank account information to wire it to you.

·  There is typically a follow-up call explaining that the grand prizewinner is ineligible because he was an illegal immigrant, so guess what? You win your $450,000 prize PLUS the $1 million prize! You just need to pay extra for the processing.

·  The scammer will even give you a phone number you can call to verify the “Make-A-Wish Foundation Sweepstakes” is legit, but you are just calling a scammer who is part of the criminal enterprise.

What You Should Know:

·  The Make-A-Wish Foundation never engages in sweepstakes.

·  There is no such agency as the “Consumer Protection Agency” and the Federal Trade Commission does not handle sweepstakes (though they do go after fraudulent ones).

·  A similar scam occurred seven years ago, and the criminals were able to steal more than $20 million before being shut down.

What You Should Do:

·  If you get a call like this, hang up.

·  If you or someone you know receives a call regarding this bogus Make-A-Wish Foundation Sweepstakes, please notify the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/complaint.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network


P.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.

AARP Fraud Watch

Hang Up on Tech Support Scams

Scammers have gotten good at convincing unsuspecting victims that they have a computer virus. Their end game is to take your money or gain access to your personal financial information.

 How It Works: 
  • You get a call or see a pop-up message on your computer warning that you have a virus (the caller will claim to be from Microsoft or Apple or another well-known tech company).
  • They convince you to give them remote access to your computer so they can fix the “problem,” but they actually install malware that steals sensitive data like user names and passwords.
  • Or, they get you to fork over credit card information and charge you for phony services, or services you could get for free.
What You Should Know: 
  • Criminals have figured out how to spoof caller ID numbers so they appear to be calling from a legitimate company, so don’t rely on caller ID.
  • Even tech savvy consumers get caught up in this scam, so don’t assume you are immune.
What You Should Do: 
  • Hang up on anyone claiming to be from tech support.
  • If you get a pop-up alert that appears to freeze your computer, don’t follow the instructions. Just shut down your computer and restart to get rid of the phony ad.
  • Look inside the tech support scam from the perspective of a former scammer at www.aarp.org/techscams.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network

P.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.Forward this alert ›AARP logo


The IRS scam

IRS Imposters Don’t Take Summer BreakIRS imposters are at their old game—but with a new twist. The IRS reports that this current scam is being reported across the country. How It Works: 

      • Scammers call taxpayers to claim the IRS has already mailed them two certified letters about an outstanding tax bill, but the letters were returned as undeliverable.
      • The scammer threatens immediate arrest unless the tax bill is paid using a prepaid debit card.
      • The scammer falsely contends that the prepaid debit card is linked to the IRS’ Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

 What You Should Know: 

      • The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies do not accept prepaid debit cards, wire transfers or gift cards as forms of payment.
      • It’s a scam if you are threatened with arrest for nonpayment.
      • The IRS will not direct you to pay through a third party. Tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.

 What You Should Do: 

      • If you are in doubt about whether or not you owe taxes, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
      • If you don’t owe taxes and get a call like this, hang up immediately.
      • Report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online or by phone, 800-366-4484.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.Sincerely,Kristin Keckeisen

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.

Special Alert: New Scam Targets Your Social Security Benefit

Dear Ray,

Collect Social Security?  A new scam is targeting YOU.

 How It Works: 
  • A scammer calls from a 323 area code, posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee.
  • In some instances, the scammer tells the victim he or she is due a cost-of-living adjustment increase in their Social Security benefit.
  • The caller then tries to get the victim to “verify” their Social Security number, name, date of birth, parents’ name and other personal information.
  • If the scammer succeeds, they use the information to make changes to the victim’s direct deposit, address, and telephone information.
 What You Should Know: 
  • The SSA does call occasionally call people for customer service purposes.
  • Only in very limited situations, usually known by the person being called, will the SSA ask to confirm personal information.
 What You Should Do: 
  • Never provide information such as your Social Security number or bank account numbers to unknown people over the phone or internet unless you are certain who is receiving it.
  • If you have questions about any SSA communication – a call, letter, email or text – contact your local Social Security office or 1-800-772-1213.
  • Report suspicious calls to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network

P.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.

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.

The IRS scam

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.


Protect Yourself from Door-to-Door Home Repair Scams

The summer months are prime time for home repair scams. The general ruse involves someone coming to your door and offering to do work on your home, typically at a big discount.

How it Works:
A con artist representing himself as a contractor comes to your door and claims he has just finished a job for a neighbor. Since he’s in the neighborhood, he’ll say, you can get work done at a steep discount. Only he will demand payment upfront, and then disappear. Or he’ll do the work but it will be shoddy, or he will demand more money to finish the job.
What you should know:
·  Be wary of anyone who comes to your door and offers to fix a problem.

·  The con artist will try to pressure you into making a decision quickly.

·  He or she will likely ask you to pay for the work upfront.

What You Should Do:
·  Get a written estimate and compare bids before starting any work.

·  Ask a contractor for three references and check them.

·  Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints before you hire a contractor.

A safe bet is to avoid working with contractors who contact you. When you do need to get work done, ask friends, neighbors and relatives for recommendations. And never pay a thing until you have a written contract in hand.When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network

P.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.

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