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Don't Be Fooled!

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How to recognize and protect yourself from scams.

You've worked hard all your life to save for and enjoy retirement. Unfortunately, the buying power you enjoy now makes you a key target for fraud. 

IRS impersonation scams alone cost Americans more than $54 million in 2016 according to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. It’s also the agency’s top scam targeting seniors. 

Here are a few common scam tactics and tips on how to protect yourself. 

Wire Me Money.

Scam perpetrators, posing as grandchildren, ask victims for money — usually via wire transfer — to help with an emergency. Is your grandson really on vacation in Alabama? 

TIP: Ask the “grandchild” a question only he or she would know, such as your pet’s name. And never send money through a cash wire service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. These companies don’t verify identities. 

Look Years Younger Overnight!

Seniors are especially susceptible to bogus product offers that promise miraculous cognitive function, physical health, virility and/or anti-aging, the FBI reports. These “amazing” offers appear in your mailbox, email or by telephone. Don’t fall for them. 

TIP: Enroll in a computer safety course to learn how to spot Internet scams. Check local resources for classes or consider an online course. 

Act Now!

Scams promise one-time-only offers to get you to act today. If it’s a legitimate product or service, it will be there tomorrow. 

TIP: Put your name on the Direct Marketing Association opt-out list to reduce junk mail. Report mail fraud to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Put your telephone number on the Federal Do Not Call List: donotcall.gov

If you’re not sure about a call or piece of mail, ask your child, caregiver or a trusted friend what they think about the claims. If you suspect fraud, call AARP Foundation’s ElderWatch: 1-800-222-4444 or the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline: 1-855-303-9470.