The scam is sometimes deceptively simple, as easy as stealing a credit card offer from your trash. Other times it can be far more complex, like the infamous con preying on worried grandparents. No matter the form, the impact is devastating. Identity theft, investment fraud and scams rob millions of Americans – last year there were 12.6 million victims of identity theft alone.
There are a number of things you can do to protect you and your loved ones from online or offline identity theft and fraud. Here are five to get you started:
- Avoid easy PINs or passwords: that means no family birth dates or names, no SSN or phone numbers, and no consecutive numbers 1-2-3.
- Beware of emails that claim to come from your bank or Internet service provider asking you to confirm your personal information or account number. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call 1 (888) 5-OPT-OUT or visit optoutprescreen.com to stop pre-approved credit card applications that a thief could steal and use to get credit in your name.
- Never give personal information to telemarketers. To cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls, sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222.
- Double-check references for door-to-door sales, home repair offers and other products. Verify that businesses and others who contact you are who they claim to be before you provide any personal information.
The Tools You Need to Protect Yourself
When it comes to protecting your pocket book from scammers, you are the first line of defense. By learning the common strategies criminals use so you can be on your guard and protect your hard-earned money. AARP has spent hundreds of hours of interviews with victims and con artists so we can bring you the tools you need to defend your-self against their tricks.
Fight back against identity theft and fraud. Learn about active scams, and find out how to spot and avoid them. Visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork