New frauds and scams seem to crop up weekly. Identity theft and other scams rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money. Last year alone, Americans lost $18 billion dollars to fraud and scams. In fact, every two seconds, a con artist steals someone’s identity.
What tricks do con artists use to steal your money? How can you outsmart scammers before they strike? Beat the con artists at their game. Check out this month’s scam alerts and don’t get taken in with the fraudsters’ tricks.
Oh, and if you would like to host a top frauds and scams presentation in your community, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a corps of trained volunteers who can bring to you a one-hour top frauds and scams presentation. Free of charge!
So, here are some more frauds and scams which may be coming to you!
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.”
You may know about the tech support scam, when 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 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 for further fraud. If you get a call like this, hang up and report it to the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
The Fraud Watch Network 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 homework. Promises of guaranteed returns are 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.
Think it sounds like a great gig to wrap your care with advertisements for money?
It turns out that these offers can be perfect opportunities for scammers to steal your money. When you sign up, they send you a check and ask you to wire part of the money to the graphic designer or installation company. After you wire the money, the check they gave you bounces and you’re out the cash you wired.
Do your research on companies before providing your personal or financial information and remember that big money offers are often scams.
Fake checks are the darlings of many scam artists, from bogus lottery winnings, fake employment opportunities, to phony grant awards.
Whatever the story, the scam artist sends you a check and then asks you to use it to buy gift cards or wire money to them. You deposit the check into your account and when it bounces, you are responsible for covering those funds.
There is no legitimate reason why someone who gives you money would need you to send money back to them.
Get more information on frauds and scams at AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts and stay alert on con artist’s latest tricks. It’s free of charge for everyone – AARP members, non-members, general public and people of all ages.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.