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Protect Yourself From Scams and Fraud

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

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AARP Fraud Watch Network

If you or a loved one suspect a scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network helpline at 877-908-3360. Visit aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork for more information and resources on scams and fraud.

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect us all, and scammers continue to do all they can to take advantage of it.

How these scams work:

  • Scammers lure in targets with an offer to “skip the line” for quicker access to the COVID-19 vaccine – for a fee.
  • They claim to be selling in-demand supplies, like face masks, test kits and household cleaners.
  • They hack into people’s social media accounts and send the user’s contacts a message saying they can get you a “COVID relief grant.”
  • Scammers send text messages impersonating contact tracers warning you’ve been exposed to the virus and to click a link for more info.

What you can do:

  • Ignore any offer to skip the vaccine line – it’s a lie.
  • Engage your inner skeptic when you see ads offering in-demand, hard-to-obtain supplies.
  • Be suspicious of messages or posts from people in your social media circle with a special offer – contact them via other means to warn them their account may have been hacked (and tell them to change their password right away).
  • Real contact tracers will not send you a link to click, and they will not ask for money or sensitive personal information.
  • Be warned that links in texts and emails can download software that steals your usernames and passwords and other sensitive info.

To share this information with your loved ones, download our one-pager here.

AARP New Jersey Fraud Fridays - 2021

Join AARP New Jersey's Fraud Friday conversations on Facebook Live at noon! We'll be discussing the latest fraud and scams in New Jersey and we'll provide tips on how you can protect yourself. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions live for our guests.

View our previous conversations:

  • Friday, March 5: The IRS joined AARP NJ during tax season to discuss common tax fraud and scams, how to know if it's really the IRS contacting you, and other tips on protecting yourself. Watch on Facebook here and YouTube here.
  • Friday, February 5: The Division of Consumers Affairs and Senior Medicare Patrol of NJ joined AARP NJ to discuss COVID-19 vaccine scams, red flags and how to avoid vaccine-related fraud. Watch on Facebook here and YouTube here.

AARP New Jersey Fraud Fridays - 2020

  • Friday, December 4: The IRS and FTC joined us during National Tax Security Awareness week to discuss phishing scams that taxpayers should look out for, how small businesses can guard against identity theft, and general cyber security tips. Watch on Facebook here and YouTube here.
  • Friday, September 25: Director of Complaints & Investor Outreach at the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, Arlene Ferris-Waks, discusses investment fraud in NJ and how to protect yourself. Watch on Facebook here and YouTube here.
  • Friday, August 21: Charles Clarkson, Project Director of the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey, discusses the best way to protect, detect and report Medicare fraud. Watch on Facebook here or YouTube here.
  • Friday, August 14: Federal Trade Commission's Rosario Méndez joins AARP New Jersey for a discussion on seed packets being delivered from China, romance scams and charity scams during the pandemic. Watch on Facebook here or YouTube here.
  • Friday, July 24: Facebook Live with U.S. Postal Inspector, Greg Botti. Inspector Botti has investigated a variety of criminal matters including revenue fraud, mail fraud and identify theft. Watch on Facebook here or YouTube here.
  • Friday, July 10: Facebook Live with Karin Price Mueller, fraud expert and columnist for the Star-Ledger. We discussed the latest fraud and scams happening right here in New Jersey - including Labor Department impersonators on Facebook and tax season scams - and how you can protect yourself. Watch on Facebook here or YouTube here.
  • Friday, June 26: Facebook Live with the Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Watch on Facebook here or YouTube here.
  • Friday, June 5: Facebook Live with AARP's Fraud Watch Network's Seth Boffeli. Watch on YouTube here.

Elder Financial Exploitation: Is this the crime of the 21st century?

AARP New Jersey held a free webinar with nationally recognized fraud fighting authority, Paul Greenwood, on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Greenwood, a recently retired deputy district attorney from San Diego, drew upon his 22 years of prosecuting elder financial exploitation crimes to provide tips on how we can all reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this growing crime. He gave examples of cases that he personally prosecuted and offered practical advice on how to try to stay safe from in-person and online predators looking to steal our hard earned money.

Participants learned:

  • The definition of elder abuse and financial exploitation
  • Types of financial exploitation
  • Likely victims and perpetrators
  • What you can do to recognize and report it

Later that night, Greenwood discussed frequently asked questions from the webinar on Facebook Live. WATCH HERE.

Inside the Mind of a Master Con-Artist: How to Protect Yourself Online

Brett Johnson built and ran the first organized cybercrime community and has even been coined, the “Original Internet Godfather,” by the United States Secret Service. Now, Johnson speaks across the world as a fraud expert, educating consumers on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from scams.

Brett Johnson was responsible for refining modern financial cybercrime as we know it today. After being placed on the United States Most Wanted List, captured and convicted of 39 felonies, Brett promptly escaped prison. Captured again, Brett served his time, accepted responsibility, and found redemption through his loved ones and the help of the FBI. Today, he is considered a leading authority on internet crime, identity theft, and cybersecurity. Brett speaks and consults across the planet to help protect people and organizations from the type of person he used to be.

On August 6, AARP hosted an event with Johnson where he revealed how he became a con-man, why he changed his ways and how you can protect yourself from cybercriminals. You can watch AARP's Facebook Live with Johnson here.

AARP New Jersey Hosts Telephone Town Hall on Coronavirus Fraud

AARP New Jersey hosted a toll-free Telephone Town Hall on ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from coronavirus scams and identity theft. Listen to the recording here to get the latest information about scams from AARP New Jersey and Karin Price Mueller, fraud expert and columnist for the Star-Ledger.

Protect Yourself From Scams this Tax Season

March is the middle of tax season, which means scammers are turning to tax schemes to target consumers. And with March kicking off with National Consumer Protection Week (March 1 - March 7) – now is an especially good time to review tips on how to protect yourself from fraud.

IRS Internal Revenue Service documents and folder.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides these reminders:

1. Communication Channels: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.

2. Payment: The IRS does not demand that you use a specific payment method, such as prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will not ask for your debit or credit card numbers over the phone.

3. Threats: The IRS will not threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

4. Social Security Number: Scammers may pretend to be from the Social Security Administration and mention overdue taxes. The Social Security Administration will never call and ask for your Social Security number, and they won’t ask you to pay anything. Hang up if you receive a call threatening to suspend your Social Security number for an unpaid tax bill.

To learn more about tax scams and how to report a scam, visit the IRS page here.

For even more information on tax fraud, listen here to a recording from our Telephone Townhall discussion with the IRS. You’ll hear from two IRS experts who discuss how to avoid becoming a victim of tax fraud.

And remember: you’re not done once your taxes are filed and your return is received. It’s important that you protect your personal data and shred unneeded bank statements and information. This Kiplinger article details what you should shred, and what you should hold onto.

For more information on fraud, visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. Through the Fraud Watch Network, you can sign up to receive free biweekly Fraud Watch Alerts delivered right to your email inbox.

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