2015-04-09 / Senior Savvy

Scams and Springtime

By Florence Archambault

Fraud is defined as “deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair and unlawful gain.” The media is full of warnings about identity theft and scams, not only for seniors but the entire population, yet horror stories abound about predators duping unsuspecting victims.

To help combat these scams, the AARP has established a Fraud Watch Network and recently produced the Watchdog Alert Handbook, which details 13 ways con artists steal your money.

The Newport County Chapter of AARP will offer a program on the Fraud Watch Network at its regular monthly on Monday, April 20, at 1:30 p.m. at Fenner Hall. Alan Neville, Rhode Island AARP president, and Ruth Thumbtzen, of the local chapter, will present.

The Fraud Watch Network is a go-to resource to help you protect yourself from identity theft, investment fraud, and other common scams. It offers the latest breaking scam alerts delivered for free right to your inbox. It also provides a scam-tracking map featuring warnings from law enforcement and local people sharing experiences. Volunteers trained in fraud detection and reporting are available to assist the public. To connect, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

There are three common ways con artists steal your identity. Phishing is when someone emails claiming that there is some problem with your bank account. They say you need to verify your account by giving them your Social Security number, bank routing number or birth date. DON’T give any of this information unless you have initiated contact with the institution yourself.

Another common method is when a con artist uses personal information taken from your trash, your office, or from social media websites. Here is where the shredder comes in handy.

A third popular means of mining personal data is through online employment websites. Filling out an internet job application gives the scammer an opportunity to use or sell your personal information.

There are many other ways personal data can be obtained. It is in our best interests to be on the alert against all the scams that abound. Not only will you protect your assets, but you’ll preserve your sanity. From all accounts of those who have had their identity stolen, it doesn’t appear to be much fun to try to regain it.

It’s spring at last! Or, is it? I certainly didn’t think so when I sat in church on Palm Sunday and looked through the window at the bushes still covered with snow. Although blustery, Easter was a bit milder, but here we are mid-April, still mired in gray and drizzle. At least it’s spring indoors at my house, with vases of red and yellow tulips, a blooming orchid and a flowering African violet to cheer the scene.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Boston Flower Show and it was spring there - until we came out of the building and the wind whipped up the sidewalk from the water. Oh well, at least the daffodils are coming up. Fingers crossed that they will be in bloom in time for Daffodil Days!

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