On the heels of a new report showing the top scam in Nebraska is impostor scams, the AARP Fraud Watch Network offers tips so people can learn how to protect themselves from all ten of the top scams reported by Nebraskans in 2014.
According to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, 8,721 Nebraskans reported being scammed last year. Impostor scams topped the list of consumer complaints. Age-wise, those in their 50s filed the most complaints – about one in five – while 18 percent of complaints were made by those in both their 40s and 60s. People age 70 and older filed 10 percent of complaints.
Scammers may impersonate police officers, federal agents or financial service companies to scare people into paying them. Or, they pretend to be a friend or loved one in trouble who needs money. Examples of impostor scams include a phone call from an IRS official ordering you to pay back taxes, or someone pretending to be a grandchild stranded in a foreign country in need of money from you to get out of trouble.
To avoid falling victim to such scams, AARP advises not to wire money or provide personal data over the phone to anyone claiming to be from a government agency like the IRS. Real federal agents don’t call or email to demand immediate payment. Official correspondence will come by U.S. mail. If someone calls saying they are a family member in distress, verify the story with other family members or ask the caller questions that a stranger couldn’t answer.
“Con artists don’t care how hard Nebraskans have worked,” said Devorah Lanner, communications director with AARP Nebraska. “AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network to help people outsmart con artists before they strike. Our mission is to help people safeguard against identity theft and scams so they can keep their hard-earned money.”
The AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork provides consumers with the tools they need to spot and avoid scams. A free resource for people of all ages, the Fraud Watch Network offers real-time alerts about the latest scams in your state, a scam tracking map where people can report on scams so their friends and neighbors know what to watch out for, a guide to outsmarting con artists, and a helpline where Nebraskans can speak to a trained volunteer for advice if they or someone they love has been scammed.
The top scams with number of complaints for Nebraska are:
- Imposter scams – 989
- Identity theft - 914
- Debt collection - 882
- Telephone and mobile services - 451
- Banks and lenders - 413
- Sweepstakes and lotteries - 354
- Auto-related complaints - 341
- Shop-at-home and catalog sales - 287
- Television and electronic media – 239
- Health Care - 206
- Internet Services - 195
The agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book is based on consumer complaints filed with the FTC, and is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country and abroad to help identify fraud trends, research cases, identify victims and track possible targets. It does not include “Do Not Call” complaints.