Who couldn’t use a little extra money over the holidays? As many as a half million people will take seasonal jobs during the holiday season. And scammers will be out there trying to take advantage of seasonal workers by posing as employers on third-party websites. When you apply for these job listings, you will be promoted to provide personal information such as date of birth, address and Social Security number for “verification purposes.” Scammers can then use this information to steal your identity. One big red flag to look out for is a job which offers a lot of money for very little work. If the position seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam. If you have questions about a job listing you see online, go directly to the business website or give them a call.
Scams and frauds are on the rise, but Mainers can take active steps to protect themselves and their families. AARP Maine is once again collaborating with community partners to host free shredding events. All of our events will also include safe disposal of your unwanted or expired medications. Please join us and bring your friends and family!
One tell-tale sign that should make every consumer suspicious is when something is offered “for free.” These free offer scams are often associated with Medicare. The program spends around $6 billion a year on medical devices, and a market this big draws scammers. In a medical equipment scam, someone reaches out with an offer of a “free” brace, wheelchair or other device. All they need is your Medicare number. Once they have it, scammers can use it to bill the government for devices and services that aren’t needed.
The Fraud Watch Network Helpline is inundated with calls about scams involving investing in start-ups. Scammers make up elaborate details about hot investment opportunities, or may try to sell you a vague or nonexistent product. As they pressure you to invest, they flaunt their wildly accomplished resume, and offer unrealistic promises, including guaranteed high returns. Don’t trust someone’s pitch without doing your research. The promise of guaranteed returns is a big red flag. Find out if the investment product is registered with the SEC or your state securities agency. And if it sounds too good to be true, you can bet it likely is.
You may know about the tech support scam, where you get a call or pop-up about a virus on your computer and need to give someone remote access to “fix” the problem. Now there’s a refund twist to this scam. Scammers call, explaining you bought a tech protection plan in the past and that the vendor is going out of business and owes you a refund. Scammers might ask for your bank account information or for remote access to your computer, which leaves you vulnerable to further fraud. If you get a call like this, hang up and report it to the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
Government grant scams are on the rise. Scammers lure targets through ads (newspaper, email, text messages, and even by hacking into your friends’ social media accounts), claiming you’re eligible for a $25,000 grant for a $1,200 fee. Know that government agencies do not hand out “free” money and most government grants go to institutions following lengthy applications. Never pay money to receive money. Watch out for requests to wire money for upfront fees or taxes or requests for banking information for “deposits.”
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