CONCORD —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.
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So, here are some more frauds and scams which may be coming to you!
Illegal Robocalls and Spoofing
American homes received more than 48 billion robocalls (auto-dialed calls) in 2018.
While many are legitimate – your doctor’s office confirming an appointment, your pharmacy letting you know your prescription is ready, even AARP calling to offer educational sessions on things like fraud prevention – experts estimate that 40% of robocalls could be scams.
Fend off the scammers! Add all your numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry @ donotcall.gov. Explore free or low-cost call-blocking options. Verify the identity of a caller, by your phone book or online. And report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint so the good guys know what the bad guys are up to.
Also, recognize that incoming calls can be “spoofed,” faked to look like legitimate callers do don’t rely solely on Caller ID.
Have you considered prepaying for funeral arrangements to alleviate your family from the burden on your behalf? Consider these risks before calling the local funeral home.
Anytime you pay for services in advance, you run the risk of not receiving what you paid for. A funeral home may go out of business or may not honor the arrangement for any number of reasons.
Funeral homes are required to provide an upfront, detailed price list. Before prepaying, get a written contract that shows exactly what you’re buying and make sure you and your family understand what is included.
Finally, check your state’s regulations to find out if you are protected if the funeral home goes out of business.
Family Emergency Scam
Under-reported and overly difficult on our hearts, this scam – often called the grandparent scam – preys on family bonds.
Scammers claim to be a member of your family or a police officer or a lawyer representing your loved one. They will tell stories of an accident, arrest or kidnapping and request money to resolve the situation.
Often, they request that you not tell anyone else. If you receive a request like this, slow down, ask questions, and consult others in your family.
Avoid talking to someone who threatens you or your loved ones and be wary of anyone who demands an immediate payment or decision.
DNA Testing Scams
A new Medicare scam involves “free” DNA swab tests as health screenings. You may visit a booth at a health fair or receive a flyer in the mail offering an incentive for signing up for a DNA sample.
Before engaging, consider that genetic tests must be ordered by your doctor and must be medically necessary to be covered by Medicare. Scammers use these tactics to steal your insurance information and sensitive medical information.
Additionally, some might sell your DNA information to third-party companies AND you will still owe the costs since they aren’t covered by your insurance plan.
Know the risks and speak to your doctor and insurance provider before agreeing to “no-cost” tests and lengthy medical history assessments.
Get more information on frauds and scams at AARP’s Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. 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.