AARP presents October 2018 scam alerts


Last updated 10/12/2018 at 1:38am

TEMECULA – In 2017, 16.7 million Americans lost nearly $17 billion to identity fraud. Security experts recommend people take three simple steps to help protect their digital identity: set up electronic access to financial accounts; freeze their credit and use a password manager or use strong passwords and store them securely. To learn how to put these tips into practice, visit

Many scammers will make fake online dating profiles to get close to victims, build a relationship with them online and ask for money to finally meet their love interest, start a new business idea or claim they are in financial trouble and need help. While many people on dating sites are legitimately looking for love and friendship, AARP said to remember that there are many scammers out there looking to capitalize on the goodwill of loving and caring people. It is never a good idea to send unknown people money, no matter what the perceived relationship with them might be. AARP said that residents should exercise caution when dating online, as it is easy for someone to pretend to be someone else while sitting behind a computer instead of meeting them face-to-face.

It seems that everyone overshares on social media sites these days, but sharers should beware. Scammers have become increasingly smart and sneaky, using information people share online to find targets for their next scams. For example, if someone shares photos and status updates about their vacation out of the country, scammers may use the opportunity to contact any listed relatives pretending to be them, say they’re in trouble and ask for money. While social media is a useful tool to keep distant family and friends up-to-date, AARP reminded users that it is important to adjust the privacy settings on any account and be mindful of who can see posts. Exercise discretion in what is posted online to avoid being the target of a scam.

In a recent cyber security scam, smartphone users receive a text from an unknown number with a message claiming a friend has written a compliment about them in a new app. The text message contains a link that prompts them to download the specific app on their phone. Online there may even be hundreds of glowing reviews for the app. But in the fine print, users will see that downloading the app automatically grants it access to their contacts and all of their saved numbers. Next, the app perpetuates its number trolling activity by sending all the contacts the same invitation. While the scam poses minimal immediate danger, it allows fraudsters to access phones to steal contacts and build a list of phone numbers that the scammer can later sell on the black market for future scam targets. If someone receives a text message prompting them to download an app like this one, AARP said it’s best to delete the message and avoid any potential issues.

As Halloween draws to a close, the winter holidays begin in full swing, but residents won’t let this social media scam dampen their spirits. In a pyramid scam, another user posts a status update about joining in a Secret Holiday gift exchange which promises that if they send one gift to a recipient, they’ll will receive upward of 30 gifts in return; however, these sorts of chain “gift exchanges” are considered to be a form of illegal gambling by the government. Not only may participants not receive any gifts, but they also may end up in legal trouble with the government. If someone wants the thrill of getting unknown gifts, they could plan a White Elephant or Yankee swap gift exchange with their friends and family and without the threat of legal retaliation, the AARP said.

“Be a fraud fighter. If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam,” according to the AARP.

Residents can report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call (877) 908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at

Submitted by AARP.


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