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  • ELIZABETH EDWARDS

The Latest Scamming Tricks and Tips: Are Your Parents Aware?



Generally when I receive the monthly publication from A.A.R.P., I have tossed it aside or used it for packaging. When it comes time to renew my subscription, I often think to myself "What does this organization truly do for me?" Yes, I get a little discount at some restaurants, but I honestly don't use my membership for much more than that.


However, this month's issue is focusing on a special report 'Your 2023 Fraud Survival Guide In Your Home, On Your Phone, In The Store, On Your Computer.' I decided to read this last night, as the issue is becoming more prevalent. Staying up to date with all that is out there will not only help me to protect myself, but to help my clients as well.


I am amazed at the many ways scammers can now take advantage of others, and this article shared several current methods. We can only protect ourselves and our loved ones from this onslaught by staying continually aware of what is happening and take action.


No matter where you may live these days, it is important to know how to protect yourself in the four areas chosen. Today I will focus on one scam and precautionary measures for each of the topics.


YOUR HOME

Gone are the days where we just open our doors for anyone who knocks. If your front door doesn't have a peep hole or a video camera, consider installing one or both. When someone knocks on your door that you do not know, you are under NO obligation to open that door for them. If they do not leave, call the police and report them. Any service person you may be expecting should be carrying a badge, and you have every right to ask to see their work identification.


YOUR PHONE

There are so many ways that we must protect ourselves when using our phones, and the scams that are currently in vogue absolutely astound me! We can receive fake texts from scammers who pose as our banks, our streaming services, our shopping sites (I received one the other day saying that there was something wrong with my big name shopping website and I needed to contact them, and I don't even use that site), and shipping companies. We may also receive fake emails that are addressed to someone else.


The rule of thumb is simply DON'T OPEN THEM. If you don't know who is sending you a text or an email, don't click on it. You may think and feel like responding to them with a 'STOP' text or giving them a piece of your mind thinking it will deter them. Most of the scamming is done by computers, so you aren't even dealing with a real individual. You are simply waisting your precious breath.

Of course, there are also phone calls from scammers. My personal choice after reading this article is to set up my phone to where both my personal and business calls go into voicemail. The goal of any phone scammer is to engage you to learn more about you. Stop them dead in their tracks, and remember, many scammers set up their scam so that once a call is answered, even if you say nothing, their system will pick up your number and continue to send more calls.


IN THE STORE

Keep your Medicare and Social Security cards AT HOME in a safe place. You may want to keep them in a folder along with your other insurance documents such as life insurance, auto insurance, etc. Let a trusted friend or family member know where your important documents are in case of an emergency. If you lose your wallet, these are two critical pieces of your personal information that can easily lead scammers to finding out more about you.


ON YOUR COMPUTER

Two-factor authorization may seem to be a hassle, however, it will help keep your online websites such as utilities, financial institutions, etc. more secure. The only person who can accept the two-factor authorization is the person who is signed into your phone.


There is a second part to this Special Report which deals with the subject of protecting your money. There are several things you can do that may take some of your personal time up front, but in the long run, will help prevent theft from scamming. I have featured the one that I have just recently found out about before reading the article, and I believe it is probably one that is an oversight by many of us - how we send and receive our mail.


YOUR MONEY

MAIL BOXES


Pick up your mail as soon as possible after it is delivered. Scammers are now able to steal checks you may have received, erase the ink, and just like that, steal from your bank account. If you don't have a mailbox that has a lock and key, you are a prime candidate for this kind of scamming.


Also consider using a free service from the U.S.P.S. known as 'Informed Delivery.' This service allows for photos of letter-size items that are expected to be received that day. Sign up at InformedDelivery.usps.com.


Both of these parts are jam-packed with current tips about protecting your person, including social media accounts. The last two parts are the good news about what is happening in the area of fraud prevention, and the entire piece is definitely worth the time it took me last night to read. You may find the article in the current April 2023 A.A.R.P. bulletin, (Vol. 64, No. 3) or online at aarp.org/bulletin and you may also find, as I have, that taking the time to read and learn is always worthwhile.


Stay safe.

Stay strong.

Stay inspired!


(credit: Sari Harrar, Amy Nofziger, Mark Fetterhoff)

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