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 nh@aarp.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!

Fake Charity Scams
Getting a request to donate to a charity?  Before you give, make sure your hard-earned money is going to the intended cause.

Unfortunately, con artists will try to take advantage of your good nature and pressure you to make contributions to their scam charities.  Before you donate, first follow these tips:

  • Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations
  • Never give payment information to an unsolicited caller or email
  • Do not pay in cash – donate by credit card or check made payable to the charity
  • Do your research by contacting your state’s charity regulator or consulting a charity rating organization such as charitynavigator.org

Don’t feel bad about saying NO to charitable requests you are not comfortable with.

Jury Duty Scams
Jury duty scams are one of the most common and tricky variations of imposter scams out there.  Typically, these scams begin with a phone call claiming you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest.

The scammer might ask you for personal information – such as your Social Security number – to verity your identity.  Additionally, the scammer might ask you to pay a fine via wire transfer, gift card, or credit card to avoid arrest.

Remember that real US court officials and law enforcement offices will not call you and ask for personal information, request money to pay a fine, nor will they threaten you with immediate arrest.  Courts usually communicate by mail.

If you have any doubt about the correspondence you received from your county courthouse, independently research the phone number and call to verify it came from them.

Social Media Scams
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide a convenient way to connect with friends and family, but scammers also use these platforms to find victims.

Scammers often create fake profiles and pretend to be either someone you know, someone you want to know or an entity you trust.  The following are some red flags that you might be targeted by a scammer on a social media platform:

  • You receive a friend/follow request from someone you are already connected with
  • You are informed about an opportunity to receive a grant, sweepstakes or prize
  • You are asked to send money to receive money
  • You are notified that someone is in an emergency situation and they need your help right away

Only engage with people on social media platforms who you know.  Make sure you use privacy settings to ensure only people who you know and trust can view your profile.

Dialing Scams
When making a phone call to an organization you know and trust, have you ever been greeted by an automatic recording that congratulates you for being selected to win a free prize or take a survey?

We know to be suspicious of unwanted calls from scammers who claim we’ve won something, but what about when we make the call ourselves?  Unfortunately, scammers purchase a series of phone numbers that closely resemble the phone numbers of legitimate businesses.

Scammers use these numbers to make people think they’ve reached the organization they were intending to when, in fact, they’ve reached a scammer.  Case in point – scammers currently own two numbers close to AARP’s toll-free number.  To reach AARP, dial 1 888 687 2277.

Never provide your financial information to someone who claims you’ve qualified for a “free” product, service or prize.  If you encounter this situation, hang up the phone, check the number you’ve intended to dial, and try dialing again.  Always double-check the area code and full phone number before you dial, as one slip of the finger can result in a costly experience.

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.