Seniors can learn how to not get scammed

The Minnesota chapter of American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) conducts anti-fraud workshops for those 50 years of age and older throughout the state virtually every day of the week. A Camden workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 24, at the Camden Community Center, 1210 37th Avenue North. There is no cost to attend.  RSVP by calling 612-787-3718.

Topics include the latest scams, con-artists, identity theft, Internet fraud, and what seniors can do to protect themselves. According to AARP, people aged 50+ control over 70 per cent of the wealth in the U.S. and are targeted locally and from far-reaching locations for billions each year. Fraudsters use email, Internet, phone, official-looking letters they send via the U.S. mail, and even go door to door to con seniors. Issues some elderly seniors face, like memory loss, living alone, keeping up with new technology, or maintaining an aging home on limited resources, make them especially vulnerable.

And, although it is no comfort, anyone conducting business via the Internet, and providing personal and financial information over the phone, is vulnerable. In today’s society, it is easy for criminals to get access to personal information. Understanding the latest fraud trends and tactics can help protect personal information and often an individual’s life’s savings.

Common scams include urgent phone calls, supposedly from a bank, utility company or the IRS, demanding immediate payment, credit card numbers, money via wire transfer, etc., along with threats to stop service or of doing time in jail for failure to pay taxes. Often fraudsters pose as charitable organizations seeking donations and asking for credit card numbers and security or access codes. Phone and online scams—even television ads offering free resort stays, incredible travel deals, matchmaking services, weight loss and so on, are frequent. Common contractor scams involve someone stopping by to offer to trim a tree or make a house repair, collecting full or partial payment, but never returning to finish the work or doing shoddy work.

Minnesota AARP’s volunteer Fraud Watch Network engages seniors statewide as “fraud fighters” who report and share information about fraud. The organization meets regularly with local law enforcement and investigators to determine how financial criminals target people in the state. Nationally, AARP partners with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its seniors’ fraud prevention education outreach. It customizes all fraud workshops according to the interests of the audience, discussing everything from cybercrime to financial theft within the family. AARP also offers an insurance identity theft protection plan at a reduced rate to its members. The plan is one of the many monthly fee-based services offering protection and assistance against identity theft.

To learn more about fraud against seniors, attend a free workshop, sign up for AARP’s watchdog alerts, and visit AARP.org/money/scams-fraud. Remember to also regularly monitor fraud news from the Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office and the Consumer Action Network.