FTC: Impostor Scams Surpass ID Theft (but Debt Collection Remains Top Complaint)

More Americans last year complained about scammers playing an identity — most often, that of an IRS or other government official — than stealing theirs. In its 2016 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, released last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said impostor scams surpassed identity theft for the first time, becoming the second most common category of consumer complaints. Debt collection remained the top consumer gripe, generating 859,090 complaints (28 percent of the total) — more than the combined …

Puppy Scams Return!

How much is that doggy on the computer screen? With a recent resurgence in the longtime Puppy Scam, it’s costing some pet-seekers thousands of dollars and heaps in heartbreak. That’s because they fall for an adorable pup pictured online — on Craigslist, Facebook or a website supposedly for a reputable breeder — that’s advertised “for sale,” adoptable for free to a loving home, or in response to their own “wanted” posts seeking a pet. Problem is, there is no animal. …

Shelter From the Sneakiest Real Estate Scams

Scams are a reality of real estate. Whether buying, selling or renting property, here’s what to know about some of the sneakiest schemes: Closing cons It starts with hacking the email accounts of real estate agents to steal details about clients and closing dates, often by tricking agents into clicking malware-infected links supposedly sent by a potential client. Scammers then follow with phone calls or other emails — posing as that agent, a title company, real estate attorney or the …

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 …

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 …