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AARP Massachusetts Monthly Fraud Watch Network update for December 2019

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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. Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam. Report scams to local law enforcement. Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork for more information on fraud prevention.

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.

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SCAM ALERT #1: SEASONAL WORK SCAMS

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 prompted 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.

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SCAM ALERT #2: GIFT EXCHANGE

Whether at work or school, December is the season for gift exchanges and scammers want to get in on the action. One pyramid scam often seen around this season involves a viral social media post about joining in a Secret Holiday gift exchange. It promises that if you send one gift to a recipient, you will receive upwards of 30 gifts in return. However, these chain “gift exchanges” are a form of illegal gambling. Not only may you not receive any gifts, but you also may end up in legal trouble. With so many ways to give in real life, skip the virtual gift giving and have a safer holiday season.

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SCAM ALERT #3: GIFT CARD SCAMS

Gift cards are a great idea for gift giving, but do you know how to spot one that’s been compromised? Check the back of the card to make sure the strip over the activation code is intact. Don’t buy the first card on the rack as they are the top target for impatient scammers. Lastly, register your gift card with the retailer if it is an option. This will make it easier to report misuse if it occurs. Your safest bet is to buy gift cards that are stored safely behind the counter or purchase them online directly from the retailer.

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SCAM ALERT #4: END OF YEAR, MORE WORK TO BE DONE

As 2019 comes to a close, it is a good time to pause and reflect on all of the work that goes into keeping Massachusetts residents safe from scams and fraud. Over the course of this year, AARP Massachusetts has shared tips with thousands of people about how to stay safe from online and telephone scams. We’ve helped seniors stay safe by shredding thousands of pounds of documents containing personal information. We’ve worked with law enforcement partners and community partners. AARP volunteers have given fraud prevention presentations across the state and we’ve reached a large online audience through email alerts and social media messages. But while we sit back and catch our breath a bit over the holiday season, we know that this important work doesn’t end. Scammers won’t stop, so neither can we. Look for us in your community in 2020.

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