AARP Scam Alert - July

1. Summertime Door-to-Door Scams

Summer is officially here, which means door-to-door sales crews are too. But buyer beware because what they’re selling isn’t always legit.

These scams can show up in a variety of forms. Sometimes it’s solar panels for your home at a can’t-be-beaten price or it’s a student selling magazine subscriptions to help fund their school program. Other times it’s a construction worker who say they stopped by because they just happened to be working in the neighborhood. One thing they all have in common is pressure to sign up or pay upfront. 
Any “deal” that you have to sign up for right away or that you have to pay for in advance is likely no deal at all. Your best bet is to proactively seek out the services you need. And consider making a deal with yourself to never do a deal with someone before you’ve had time to do your research.

2. The Latest in Amazon Impostor Scams

Criminals love to impersonate big businesses and the bigger the better. One of the largest targets of impostor scams last year was Amazon. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 44,000 reports about scammers using Amazon's name were filed last year, with $19 million reported lost. Here are two of the latest versions of an Amazon impostor scam to be on the lookout for.

Complex scams that involve an Amazon impostor, a bank impostor and someone pretending to be a law enforcement investigator are trending. These scams have a heightened sense of legitimacy because the victim believes they are speaking to different independent entities who are all confirming the same threat. In reality they are talking to multiple criminals who are all part of the same scheme.

False membership renewal messages are another trending form of Amazon impostor scams. Because many customers aren’t aware of when their membership expires these messages can seem legitimate. The criminals also create real looking websites where you can share your payment information. 

Whenever doing business, renewing a membership or dealing with a suspicious charge with any retailer, it is safest to do so at their official website or through their official customer service lines. Do not rely on links or phone numbers emailed or texted to you. These run a higher risk that you’ll be connected directly to a crook.

3. Consumer Fraud Fight Goes to the White House

Last year the Federal Trade Commission recorded $10 Billion in reported fraud from U.S. consumers. Because fraud is underreported, we know that actual losses are much higher.
While education empowers older Americans to protect themselves, more is needed to eliminate this large-scale problem. That’s why AARP advocates for bipartisan laws and regulations to strengthen consumer protections against scams on everything from illegal robocalls, to gift card regulations to cryptocurreny scams and more. This work is done in state legislatures across the country, in Congress and even at the White House.

Earlier this year AARP joined White House officials and industry leaders in a meeting aimed at helping the federal government fight back against the use of artificial intelligence–enabled voice cloning to commit fraud. A virtual White House conference followed in June, with AARP again at the table. With fraud already at an epidemic level, the addition of AI powered scams is alarming, which is why AARP is focused on advocating for a strong legislative response to this threat.
Already this year the Federal Communications Commission has moved to make it illegal to use AI voice cloning in robocalls targeting consumers. As a result, a scammer who cloned President Biden’s voice to deceive voters in New Hampshire was recently fined $6 million.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

4. Homebuyers and Owners Beware

With today’s tight real estate market there is often pressure to act quickly when you find that perfect place. Scammers know this and are waiting to pounce. Here are three things to be aware of when shopping for a home.

Wire fraud can happen when a criminal impersonates a real estate or title company and asks you to send the closing costs to them. Before wiring any funds contact your real estate company and confirm the account information, routing instructions and total amount needed.

Criminals are also in the market to take advantage of those at risk of foreclosure. Beware of anyone promising to make your mortgage payment issues go away -- especially if they ask for an upfront fee.

Lastly, if you are looking to rent a home, make sure and visit in person before paying a deposit. Rental scams happen often with criminals creating legitimate looking websites offering great deals on homes that aren’t really up for rent.