Staying a Step Ahead of the Bad Guys

By Doug Shadel, AARP Washington state director An identity thief with just a few bits of information about you can max out your credit cards, raid your bank account, even mortgage your house. In this digital age, a criminal can literally become you financially and take over your life. Alice Lipsky (not her real name) did this all the time. Using both high-tech computer skills and low-tech methods like car prowls and stealing purses, she took on the identities of …

AARP Finds ID Theft Higher Than Believed, Simple Preventions Ignored

New research by the AARP Fraud Watch Network finds that identity theft may be occurring at twice the rate previously believed, and the reason may be simple: Many Americans continue to ignore simple, everyday, low-tech steps that have been proved to help protect their personal and financial information, such as locking mailboxes, removing ID theft-worthy items from unattended parked cars and regularly shredding sensitive documents before disposing of them. Many also fail to take other easy measures, including securing smartphones and regularly changing …

The Cost of Health Freebies

Many freebies come at a cost. And with unsolicited offers for supposedly free medical supplies and services, it’s often identity theft. As your phone likely continues to ring with robocalls touting “free” medical alert systems — a scam that’s been going strong for more than a year (with some calls still lying about phony AARP ties and bogus coupons) — expect other equally dubious deals. Some offer “no-cost” medications and supplies for diabetes or other conditions. Others are even bolder, claiming that “doctor-ordered” …

Data Breach Hits Major Banks

JPMorgan Chase and at least four other major U.S. financial institutions are reporting hack attacks by cyber criminals who lifted customers’ personal information, according to published accounts. The attacks, which apparently took place in August, stole customer data that could be used to drain checking and savings accounts, Bloomberg News said, citing sources briefed by law enforcement. News accounts didn’t name the other banks targeted in the cyber theft or disclose how many customers may be at risk. Banks must …

3 Sneaky Schemes That Scammers ‘Bank’ On

Phone calls claim there’s a problem with your bank account or credit or debit card. Some allege you qualify for a lower-interest-rate credit card because you’ve been such a good customer. And the newest trick: telling businesses that their card-swiping machines aren’t working right and credit card transactions must be made by phone. But it’s scammers delivering such unexpected news – not legitimate financial institutions they profess to represent, which most recently include Bank of America, Barclays, and scores of …

Another AARP Spoofing Scam Surfaces

Robocalls continue to falsely claim that AARP is providing “free” medical alert devices (I got one just yesterday, with a displayed caller ID number belonging to a local swim club), and now there’s a new ruse faking the AARP name. This time, live representatives claim to be calling on behalf of “AARP Member Advantages,” asking you to “verify” personal information based on the lie that it’s a requirement of the U.S. government if you want to continue participating in AARP-related services …