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 …

Fall Fallout: It’s Time for Front-Door Fraud

Home may be where your heart is, but for scammers, it’s where the money is. They come knocking every autumn with these top perennial ploys: 1. Magazine sales. Consistently ranking among the top scams victimizing those over 60 (but targeting whoever answers the door), it goes like this: Fresh-faced teens sell overpriced magazine subscriptions for a fundraiser. Some fraudulently pose as students, others unknowingly work for scammer-run fronts trying to make a quick buck and/or collect credit card data for …

Elder Financial Fraud Just Keeps Getting Worse

A new survey is bringing renewed attention to the hideous crime of elder financial fraud — and the results show just how underreported it is. In a survey of 2,000 people, only 5 percent of people age 65 and up admitted to being swindled. Yet 19 percent of younger respondents (ages 40 to 64) said they knew of a family member or friend who’d been a victim of elder financial fraud, according to the survey by the Minneapolis-based life insurance …

FTC Asks Older Americans to Help Spot Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission has created a new campaign to tap into the experiences of older adults to help others avoid being victims of fraud. “A lot of times in the media, [older] people are depicted as things happening to them; they are victims. We don’t actually agree,” says Jennifer Leach, a consumer education specialist at the FTC. >> Scams to Avoid “Most people age 60, 65 and older are doing great,” she says. “They are experienced people who have great …

Frank Abagnale: Hackers Can Get Your Info in 15 Seconds

Frank Abagnale, former master check forger, has some sobering advice for the rest of us: Hackers likely already have your identity records. He says hackers can steal your identity in 15 seconds or less. Abagnale, who lectures on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents, spoke to attendees today at the AARP Ideas@50+ conference underway in San Diego. Among his other revelations: Children make better victims than adults because thieves can use their stolen identity for a longer time. The privacy button on …

The Hidden Costs of Free Trials

Burn fat, grow hair, or remove wrinkles while you sleep. Earn thousands a day working from home. Learn about “secret” government grants that are yours for the asking. The promises are priceless – and so are the products, quite literally. Or so you’re told. But the common outcome of free trial offers: After providing your credit card for a small shipping and handling charge, your plastic may be bombarded with recurring charges that quickly add up. Reasons: It’s not uncommon …