consumers

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Every day, thousands of AARP staff and volunteers bring AARP public policies to life when they fight on behalf of older Americans and their families in all state capitals and Washington, D.C.
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Fraud is a growing problem across the U.S., with more than 1.2 million fraud-related complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) in 2015 alone. Among those complaints, a total of $765 million was lost by consumers who fell victim to scams, according to CSN’s February 2016 data book.
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It’s bad enough being scammed out of your money once. But some older consumers are being conned a second time by so-called asset recovery companies promising to help recover the money lost in the initial fraud, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warns.
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Despite stability in the number of victims and losses last year, the ways that credit card fraud occurs have changed. With the switch to chip-enabled EMV cards in 2015, identity thieves are moving from cloning counterfeits of that existing plastic and, instead, are focusing on opening new fraudulent accounts with stolen Social Security numbers and other sensitive data.
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Identity theft has become so prevalent that some regulators say it’s not a matter of if you’ll become a victim, but when.
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After seven long years, the tech support scam continues as a reigning rip-off, generating more reports nationwide to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360) than any scheme except the IRS impostor ruse. Microsoft estimates that another 3.3 million Americans will fall victim in 2015, losing an estimated $1.5 billion to fraudsters posing as its or other tech company employees.
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You better shop around.
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AARP encourages Americans to review their health insurance options during the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period that started Sunday. Open enrollment (from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31) is an important opportunity for consumers to find a plan that could save them more money, offer better services, or include more of their doctors.
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With only a fraction of the estimated 30 million older Americans with age-related hearing loss using hearing devices, “the time is ripe for a technology solution that could be helped along by federal action,” said geriatrician Christine Cassel, M.D., last week in a report on hearing issues before a government advisory council.
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Federal Reserve policymakers will meet next week to decide whether to raise a key interest rate. If they do, it’ll be the first time since June 2006.
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