FTC: $1.7 Billion Lost to Fraudsters in 2014 — ID Theft Top Complaint … Again

Consumers reported losing $1.7 billion to scams and frauds in 2014, according to an annual review released by the Federal Trade Commission. That figure is likely a fraction of actual losses, since many people never report their victimization. For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft was the top complaint in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, accounting for 13 percent of the total 2.5 million filed complaints. That’s the same percentage as in 2013, but with more people reporting …

Brooke Astor’s Grandson Tells Senate Panel of Financial Abuse

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held one of its periodic hearings on financial abuse of older people the other day, this time inviting a relative involved in one of the more spectacular headline-making cases in recent years to testify. The grandson of socialite Brooke Astor, who blew the whistle on his father for plundering millions from his grandmother’s estate, told the Senate panel Wednesday that his grandmother’s greatest legacy may be the national attention focused on elder financial abuse. “While my grandmother …

Stand Guard Against Veterans Scams

As we honor our former military personnel, Veterans Day is also a good time to recognize the year-round attempts to defraud them and to take advantage of those who appreciate their sacrifice and service. In some scams, veterans are specifically targeted. In others, fraudsters impersonate active-duty or former soldiers or claim to be working on their behalf to con patriotic civilians. A rundown of common schemes: Charity scams: Bogus charities that claim to benefit veterans are also among the most successful schemes, …

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 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 …