Inside a Con Artist’s Mind

Greg Marchildon, AARP Vermont state director Did you know that every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen? Con artists have been around since the dawn of time, but the problem is worse today that ever, and older Americans are in the crosshairs of these criminals. Last year alone, 12.6 million citizens were victims of identity theft! How can you protect yourself from identity theft and fraud? What are some of the ways these scammers get you to take the bait – …

Is Rising Mortgage Debt Threatening Retirements?

Older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt and have accumulated less home equity than their peers a decade earlier, according to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The median mortgage debt for those age 65 and older rose 82 percent to $79,000 from 2001 to 2011, according to the agency. And though delinquencies and foreclosures have decreased since 2012, they had increased fivefold between 2007 and 2011 among older homeowners, the CFPB reports. “A home can be a place of …

Fraudsters Cash In on Fake Check Scams

Even in this age of high-tech trickery, one classic con continues strong: The gotcha that results from any number of scams that involves a fake check or money order. Last year, fake checks once again ranked as number one on the “Top Scams” list by the National Consumers League and recently, they’ve been on the increase in some parts of the U.S. But no matter where you live, they remain the route to rip-off in some of the most prevalent schemes …

Where to Report Scams (and Why It’s Important)

Silence is golden, at least for scammers. Say nothing and their bilking can continue until you and others are bled dry. Speak up and it can stop. Take, for example, another impressive yet little-publicized bust recently announced by the Federal Trade Commission. It ended a telemarketing scheme believed to have scammed more than $20 million from tens of thousands of older Americans. The agency alleges that for 31 months, a network of scammers in the U.S. and Canada cold-called retirement-age Americans …

Fear Is Back! Jury Duty, Other Intimidation Scams Return

As the forecast faithful can verify, March certainly came in like a lion. But out like a lamb? Scammers continue to be anything but sheepish in trying to steal your money and identity. Witness the recent return of the jury duty scam. That’s when fraudsters, posing as courthouse officials or police, telephone with claims you missed jury duty. Because of that, they threaten, you’re going to be arrested unless a fine is immediately paid – sometimes requested by credit card, but usually a …

The Newest Challenge to Voting

The right to vote. Seems like it was settled a long time ago, when we gave women the vote, did away with poll taxes and lowered the voting age to 18. But voter ID requirements, most recently proof-of-citizenship requirements, continue to raise new challenges to casting a ballot in many states – especially for minority, poor or older Americans. Last week, a federal trial court judge in Wichita, Kan., ruled that Kansas and Arizona could require voters to provide proof …