How to Avoid the Scammers

By AARP, Special for  USDR.

You get a phone call about a hot tip on a new investment; or asking for a donation to a disaster relief charity; or about a virus on your computer. And the one thing they have in common is: they are all schemes from scam artists who are out and about and after your hard-earned money. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is working very hard to alert consumers and ensure they have the information they need to protect themselves and their  pocketbooks.

“Scammers prey on people by getting them excited about unexpected riches or worried they’re going to miss out on a great deal. Basically, their goal is to get you ‘under the ether,’ an emotional state that can lead to poor decisions,” said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo. “AARP’s Fraud Watch Network gives you useful, common-sense tools that can help you recognize the danger signs of fraud, and stave off scammers and unscrupulous  individuals.”

What are the most common danger signs of  fraud?

  • A caller has a hot tip on a new investment that will yield lots of quick money, and insists you must immediately decide or the opportunity will be gone.
  • Someone calls with an urgent request for a disaster relief charity and asks you for your credit card number to make a donation, but you are not sure you’ve heard of the charity.
  • A tech support caller says virus activity has been detected on your computer, and then asks for access to your computer to fix it or to wire money as a fee to get it fixed.

Tips to Avoid Telemarketing  Fraud

It’s very difficult to get your money back if you’ve been cheated over the telephone. Before you do anything by telephone,  remember:

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company; legitimate businesses are happy to give you information.
  • Always check out unfamiliar companies or charities with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, attorney general, or charity watchdog groups.
  • Get the caller’s name, business name, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business, then verify these.
  • Don’t pay in advance for services.
  • Resist pressure to make a decision immediately.
  • Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor.
  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.
  • Keep your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers to yourself. Don’t tell them to callers you don’t know — even if they ask you to “confirm” this information. That’s a trick.
  • Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer.
  • Don’t agree to any offer for which you have to pay a “registration” or “shipping” fee to get a prize or a gift.

Report Telemarketing  Fraud

If you think you are a victim of telemarketing fraud, it’s important to report the scam quickly so that law enforcement agencies can shut the fraudulent operation down. If the offer is an investment, check with your state securities regulator to see if the offer—and the salesperson— are properly registered. For other frauds, contact your local police department and let your local Attorney General’s office  know.

In 2014, AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network to arm Americans with the tools and resources they need to spot and avoid scams and identity theft. But scammers are still out there, making every attempt possible to cheat consumers out of their hard-earned money. As 2015 rolls out, AARP would like to alert consumers about ongoing schemes and advise individuals as to how to protect  themselves.


All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.