Doug Dickerson, State Director,
AARP North Carolina
Fraud targeting older adults is on the rise which is why AARP is working with the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, law enforcement and other partners to fight fraud that targets older adults.
Last year in North Carolina, according to 2014 Consumer Sentinel Data, there were 57,838 reported complaints about identity theft and fraud. Undoubtedly, many other cases were unreported.
No matter how vigilant you are, con-artists are finding new ways to outsmart you. Regardless of where you live or what time of year it is, fraud is never far away. But you can protect yourself by knowing what to watch out for and telling others when you’ve spotted a scam.
Although the holiday season is behind us, what may stick around for some time are a set of common seasonal scams being used to steal your money and identity. Here are some of the latest tricks to watch out for:
Beware of deals: Hot items at huge discounts? Big red flag. Be wary, especially with unfamiliar websites, links, or posts on social media. Carefully read reviews; search the retailer’s name with ‘scam’; type in a retailer’s website yourself instead of clicking on links in emails or texts.
Shop safely online: Do not use public Wi-Fi to check sensitive financial information or to make purchases using your credit card. And use a credit card (not debit card) when making purchases for better protection.
Skip the rack: Scammers have all sorts of tricks to grab gift card numbers and codes, especially when they are within easy reach on racks at retailers. Best to get your gift cards directly from the store they’re from and preferably from the store cashier. Scan the card to ensure it has the correct balance.
Avoid the “package delivery” scam: The convenience of online shopping during the holiday season means lots of packages arriving from different retailers. Scammers take advantage of the busy time by sending convincing phishing emails appearing to be from UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. Click those links and you are led to phony sign-in pages asking for your personal information.
Check the charity: Be very cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails, and texts looking for donations. And before donating to a charity, make sure you know exactly where your money will go and how much will be going to administrative fees. Verify the organization through Giving.org and Charity Navigator.
Learn more about these and other types of scams with the AARP Fraud Watch Network. This service is free of charge for everyone – AARP members, non-members, and people of all ages. Learn how to shop and bank safely, create strong passwords, protect yourself from identity theft and scams, use social media risk-free, and more.
Learn how AARP members across North Carolina are working to stop consumer fraud and other ways AARP is working to improve your financial security by signing up for our advocacy alerts at http://action.aarp.org.