The con gathers an arsenal of information by being personable and being friendly... the logic goes out the window, the emotion kicks in, now I've endeared you to me, now I'm no longer the predator on the phone, I'm Jim from New York." - Jimmy Edwards, The Con Artist's Playbook
The scam is sometimes deceptively simple, as easy as stealing a credit card offer from your trash. Other times it can be far more complex, like the infamous con preying on worried grandparents. No matter the form, the impact is devastating. Identity theft, investment fraud and scams rob millions of Americans - last year there were 12.6 million victims of identity theft alone.
That's why AARP is launching the Fraud Watch Network, a new campaign to fight identity theft and fraud and give you access to information about how to protect yourself and your family.
How can you stay safe? By learning the common strategies criminals use so you can be on your guard and protect your hard-earned money. We've developed "The Con Artist's Playbook" -- based on hundreds of undercover fraud tapes and hours of interviews with victims and con artists. It shines a spotlight on the common strategies scammers use and gives you the tools to defend yourself against their tricks.
So what's the number one way criminals part you from your money? By getting you "in the ether," a phrase used to describe the heightened emotional state that makes it hard to think clearly and make rational decisions.
"I wanted to keep the victim up in the altitude of the ether, because once they drop into the valley of logic, I've lost them." - "Rocky", The Con Artist's Playbook
There are a number of things you can do to protect you and your loved ones from online or offline identity theft and fraud. Here are five to get you started:
- Avoid easy PINs or passwords: that means no family birth dates or names, no SSN or phone numbers, and no consecutive numbers 1-2-3.
- Beware of emails that claim to come from your bank or Internet service provider asking you to confirm your personal information or account number. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call 1 (888) 5-OPT-OUT or visit optoutprescreen.com to stop pre-approved credit card applications that a thief could steal and use to get credit in your name.
- Never give personal information to telemarketers. To cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls, sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222.
- Double-check references for door-to-door sales, home repair offers and other products. Verify that businesses and others who contact you are who they claim to be before you provide any personal information.
Fight back against identity theft and fraud. Learn about active scams, and find out how to spot and avoid them. Visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork
Also of Interest
- Meet the Medicare Fraud-Fighters
- The 21 Sexiest Men Over 50
- Questions about the Affordable Care Act? Get your answers here
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
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