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 …

How to Avoid Robocall Scams

At least one of every five phone calls now made is a robocall, and many are the work of scammers. You may hate these automated annoyances, but scammers love them: They’re cheap, far-reaching and hard to trace. No surprise that the Federal Trade Commission receives some 200,000 complaints about these calls each month. Here’s what you need to know: 1. If they’re selling, assume they’re scamming. Fraudsters may tout “free” in their recorded messages, but ask yourself this: Since when …

Nursing Home Hit With $3.3 Million Negligence Verdict

Every now and then, a jury reaches deep into a defendant’s pockets to punish it for its reprehensible conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar acts. Such was the case in May, when a Colorado jury awarded 83-year-old James Sharon and his family $3.3 million after finding the nursing home entrusted with his care guilty of negligence. Sharon’s injuries included bedsores, skin tears and abrasions, dehydration, malnutrition, and E. coli and urinary tract infections – all because he …

College Students: Ideal for ID Theft

If you have children or grandkids attending college, or about to graduate, it’s time to school them on the dangers of identity theft. Last year the Better Business Bureau deemed college students the “most at-risk” group for identity theft, and those in their 20s represented 1 in 5 of all victims (higher than any other age group), according to reports filed with the Federal Trade Commission. College students and recent graduates are often targeted because they’re ideal victims. Reasons: Many …