New Utility Impostor Scams

No disrespect to Punxsutawney Phil, but here’s a more realistic winter forecast: When it’s cold outside, utility company impostors turn up the heat — angling for your money. The biggest scam is the longtime shutoff swindle, which is reaching record levels this season in some parts of the country. Posing as local utility company personnel, fraudsters call homeowners and small-business owners, claiming that their gas or electric account is delinquent and that service will be shut off within hours if …

New Uptick in Government Scams Post-Election

Donald Trump won’t be the only one to shake things up. With a new president in the White House, scammers have fresh and convincing opportunities to take aim. Some schemes related to Trump policy and promises that you should expect, especially in coming weeks: Grant scams. Whenever there’s a change in government leadership, there’s an increase in government aid scams. Reports to our Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360 toll-free) have increased noticeably since the Nov. 8 election, says Amy Nofziger of AARP …

How Scammers Try to Steal Your Tax Refund

Tax season starts Monday, the first day the IRS is accepting electronic tax returns for 2016 — and opening day for the latest round of tax refund scams. That’s when crooks file fraudulent returns to collect tax refunds under the identities of legitimate taxpayers — living or dead. All they need is your name, Social Security number, birth date and a computer. No W-2s or other tax documents are required to e-file; information such as claimed income, taxes paid and …

Weight-Loss Scams: How to Really Lose

Millions of Americans start each January pledging that most popular New Year’s resolution, to lose weight. Some succeed with the proven strategy and simple math — burning more calories than they consume. Many lose in other ways. Billions of dollars are spent each year on bogus weight-loss products and programs — cleanses, creams, pills, potions, powers, exercising gizmos and “secret” diet regimens — that promise fast, safe and lasting results but only lighten consumers’ wallets, if not risking their health. …

Top Scams of 2016

Chalk up 2016 as another year of role-playing rip-offs: Fake IRS agents threatening arrest or deportation unless immediate payment is made for supposed back taxes. Fake grandchildren claiming trouble while overseas and in need of their loved ones’ financial help. Fake warnings of dire consequences for supposedly missing jury duty, avoided only by paying a fine and providing personal information for likely identity theft. Continuing a three-year trend, the IRS impostor scam was again the ruse most reported in 2016 …

The 8 Easiest (and No-Cost) Steps for a Scam-Free 2017

Identity theft is hard, but preventing it doesn’t have to be. Although some threats like data breaches are beyond your control, here are eight easy, no-cost ways to help scam-proof yourself in the New Year. Weed your wallet. Nearly half of all known-cause cases of identity theft start with a lost or stolen wallet. Reduce risk with some 2017 billfold cleaning by removing your Social Security card, cheat sheets noting PINs or passwords for bank cards or online accounts, blank …