October is less than one week old and it already been full of surprises. Let’s make sure that being a victim to a fraud or scam is not one of them. This month is Cybercrime Awareness Month and when we think about protecting ourselves from cybercrime, we often stop at password protection and anti-virus software. But in today’s day and age, being cyber safe extends beyond our computers and phones. Televisions, video games, doorbells, refrigerators and more can all be connected to the Internet. These are all ways that scammers can gain access to our personal data.
Stay Safe Online
AARP is joining federal law enforcement and other partners to urge consumers to take cyber safety measures throughout their homes and businesses. Make sure all of your devices are secure and your private data are protected. You can find some great tips on securing your devices at staysafeonline.org. Think about it this way: if you can connect it, protect it.
Some scams never go away regardless of the season. Utility scams are a perfect example. If it’s hot or cold out, scammers will call, email and even knock at your door demanding immediate payment for overdue bills or they’ll shut off your service. When it’s storm season and the power goes out, these crooks show up offering to restore service for a payment.
Whatever the season, the goal of these crooks is the same – to create a sense of panic in their targets in hopes they will act hastily and pay up. If you get a surprise visit or call from the “utility company,” ask questions like what your bill history is or what the individual’s employee ID number is, and then follow up to confirm before taking any action.
Real Estate Rental Scams – COVID-19
These days, because of COVID-19, lots of financial transactions that used to take place in person now happen virtually. This creates an opportunity for scammers to pose as legitimate operators and steal people’s money. One place this is happening more often is in real estate – specifically fake home rentals.
Scammers take pictures from legitimate home rental offers and create their own fake rental listings. The rentals are often offered for well below market price and the crooks use the coronavirus as a reason why a tour and in-person meeting aren’t possible. Only after the victim sends their deposit and shows up at someone else’s home, do they find out it is a scam. Be suspicious of any rental where you can’t physically visit the space.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
Visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at: www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360 to report a scam or get help if you’ve fallen victim.
Suzanne LaFollette-Black has been a gerontologist for the past 35+ years. She is the AARP NC Associate State Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach. Suzanne’s career has been in the aging network as a non-profit nursing home administrator, Area Agency on Aging Director, Executive Director of Moore County Department of Aging. Suzanne is originally from Window Rock, Arizona (Navajo Indian reservation). Suzanne has a BS in Sociology and minor in Zoology/ Music from NAU and graduate studies at USC Ethel Andrus Percy Gerontology program and MASA from University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. She served as the NCAOA (NC Association on Aging, Inc.) President from 2018-2020; Rotary; NCIOM Deaf and Hearing committee; Governor’s Highway Safety Executive Committee; and other community organizations.
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