MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Dorthy Dorton joins us to talk about scams you need to watch for.
What are some of the basics to remember about scams and fraud?
Scammers tend to stick with what works for them. So we want everyone to be aware of some of the basic ways to protect themselves from scams in general. That includes:
· Be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true – because it usually is. This is a big one. If you’ve been told you’ve won something of value, but they need to “confirm” your credit card information or you have to pay something upfront, that is definitely a scam.
How can people best protect themselves from identity theft this year?
Remember never to give out your Social Security number – or the Social Security number of any family member – to anyone over the phone. No government agency will ever call you and demand that information over the phone. Also, make sure that anyone who receives that information is absolutely trustworthy and actually needs to have it. For instance, we don’t recommend putting your Social Security number on forms in doctor’s offices anymore. It’s just not necessary. We also advise everyone to store their Social Security cards in a safe place at home – don’t carry it in your wallet.
What about sharing financial information online or over the phone?
Always be absolutely sure that you are speaking with your financial institution if you are sharing financial information. And remember that your bank or credit card company will not call you and ask for your account information – because they already have it. Anyone who calls you claiming to be from your bank and demanding this information is a scammer.
What can you tell us about utility scams during this winter season?
Every winter, we hear about scammers calling people and telling them that their utilities will be shut off unless they make an immediate payment over the phone. They are trying to panic people and get them to act quickly without thinking it through. We advise people who get these calls to hang up, then call their utility company at their customer service number to talk to an actual representative. Never let anyone pressure you into making any kind of payment over the phone with a credit card or bank account information.
Where can people find more information to stay safe from scams and fraud this year?
YOU have the power to protect yourself! Start by visiting the AARP Fraud Watch Network at http://aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork – it’s a free resource for everyone, where you will find: information about the latest scams, a scam-tracking map, and sign up for our biweekly Watchdog Alerts.
Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline to report a scam or for victim assistance: 1-866-908-3360