WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2016 – Approximately 15 million people are victims of identity theft every year. AARP’s new free Fraud Prevention Handbook outlines how to protect yourself from common types of fraud. It uncovers the strategies that scammers use and provides resources to help you defend yourself against their tricks.
“Con artists often target immigrant communities because they are particularly vulnerable, but knowing how they work can help you spot and avoid scams,” said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Leadership, Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy. “AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network to provide people with information about what makes them vulnerable and the tools they need to outsmart con artists before they strike.”
Common scams include:
- An immigration scammer might place an advertisement in the newspaper or online offering to provide legal advice, help with paperwork, or other tasks involved in the immigration process. The scammer usually asks for an upfront fee, takes the money, and disappears immediately.
- Some scammers might use a natural disaster or current event to appeal to their target’s emotions. Setting up a fake charity, they solicit generous contributions using standard methods to collect “donations.”
- Blessing scams appeal to people’s superstitious beliefs. They first appeared in China and have seen a rise in the United States in recent years. Posing as a fortune-teller, the scammer will say that he or she can sense a curse on the target or a member of the target’s family.
- Most telemarketing scams involve offering targets highly attractive deals like vacations, trial offers, loans, or subscriptions that end up having hidden fees. A scammer may pose as a charming salesperson, making small talk and claiming to work for a reputable company.
A few steps to protect yourself against scams and identity theft include:
- Never give personal information, credit card numbers, or Social Security number to telemarketers who call you on the phone. If they pressure you, they could likely be a scammer.
- Double-check references for door-to-door sales, home repair offers and other products. Verify that businesses and others who contact you are who they claim to be before you provide any personal information. If you think the request for information is legitimate, contact the company at a number you know is valid to verify the request.
- Check out a charity before donating to make sure they are legitimate at charitywatch.org or charitynavigator.org.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet, and limit the number of credit cards you carry.