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AARP Scam Alert - May

1. Digital Delivery Scams

If you’re like many Americans, the arrival of a package at your doorstep is a common occurrence. In the age of digital shopping, it has become harder than ever to keep track of what is coming when and from whom. This new reality has led directly to the rise of the digital package delivery scam.

These scams start with a text message claiming that your package has been kept on hold because of an issue with your address, insufficient postage, or nobody was home to receive it. This type of impostor scam will claim to be from the U.S. Postal Service, UPS or FedEx delivery, to name a few, and will include a link to a website that looks legitimate.

Once there you’ll be asked to verify personal information like your address or login credentials or pay a postage or delivery fee. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans reported $330 million in theft from text scams in 2022, more than double the reported losses from the year before.

To avoid these scams never click on links or call phone numbers from random text messages. If you think there is an issue with a package you’ve ordered, go directly to the retailer or shipper’s website and check for yourself.

2. FWN Survey Results

Theft through fraud has risen exponentially over the last five years. A recent report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), found that reported fraud losses topped $10 billion in 2023, up from $2.4 billion in 2019. A recent survey from the AARP Fraud Watch Network showed that this growth is not going unnoticed with 58% of people worried about fraud.

The survey also showed many people have lost money or personal data due to scams and fraud. Overall, 42% of people reported losing money, but among African Americans (56%) and veterans (50%) significantly more people lost money. Unfortunately, less than half (46%) of those who were victims of fraud shared their experience with friends and family.

Having money or sensitive data stolen from a fraud criminal can be a traumatizing experience and all too often victims want to keep that trauma private. However, it’s often more harmful and isolating because victims end up suffering in silence. It is also a missed opportunity to protect friends and family by sharing an important story that could help keep them safe.

3. Home Repair Scams

Spring has sprung and with warmer weather comes home repairs. Unfortunately, shady contractors are out there looking for homeowners in the market for spring repairs. Contractor fraud and home improvement scams can cost homeowners thousands of dollars and leave them with shoddy workmanship, unfinished projects, or even damage to their homes. 

Scammers often target older adults, but anyone can fall victim to these scams. Here are three things to know to stay safe from a home improvement rip off.

First, make sure to shop around. Don't settle for the first contractor you encounter. Get multiple estimates and ask for references before hiring anyone. Next, never pay the full cost upfront. Reputable contractors typically require a deposit, but not the full amount prior to starting the job. Lastly, resist responding to a solicitation at your door, on your phone, or online. Be proactive in your search for a reputable contractor.
May 20 - 24 is Contractor Fraud Awareness Week.

4. Medicare Scams

Government programs are often the target of criminal scammers and Medicare is one of the biggest ones. Thankfully, a nationwide network of Senior Medicare Patrol volunteers often sees these scams first and warn others. Here are three scams they are seeing in 2024:

False billing for diabetes treatment has been seen on Medicare summary notices of people who don’t have diabetes and didn’t receive a related device. This is one example of how crooks charge Medicare for services not provided. To guard against this, check monthly Medicare statements carefully and report any false charges.

Free products are another common Medicare scam, however the product you receive – if you get anything at all – is usually cheap and inferior. Only share your Medicare number with your healthcare providers, and not with someone offering “free” products or services.

Lastly, free genetic testing is once again a trending Medicare scam. This often happens at health fairs where a scammer will offer a free genetic test that only requires a cheek swab and your Medicare number. Medicare rarely covers genetic testing, and this is just a ploy to get your Medicare number.