Fraud alert: AARP warns of 8 new scams targeting older adults

Here’s how to protect yourself.

From supporting your family to planning that big vacation, you already have plenty of plans for your hard-earned money. But you’re not the only one with plans for your cash.

Scammers are constantly coming up with new and inventive ways to defraud victims of their money or sensitive information, and they often target older adults. From Google Voice scams to Amazon scam calls, here is a breakdown of the latest fraud tactics, according to the AARP.

Google Voice scam

Perhaps one of the cleverest scams gaining popularity in 2022, the Google Voice scam begins with the fraudster tricking the victim into attempting to convince them that they are not a scammer. Don’t fall for it.

Scammers will look for notices online — a social media post listing an item for sale, for example — then, they will contact the victim and claim they are an interested buyer.

They will explain that they are concerned that the post is a scam and ask the victim to verify that they are, in fact, not a scammer. This is where things become risky.

The scammer will tell the victim that they will receive a confirmation code from Google’s virtual phone service Google Voice and will ask them to read it back aloud. In reality, the scammer is setting up a Google Voice account in the victim’s name in order to claim that person’s identity online for other scams.

Identity Theft Resource Center CEO Eva Velasquez told the AARP that you should never share verification codes.

“They can go on to perpetrate scams and pretend to be you, hiding their footprint from law enforcement,” She said. “Never share verification codes with anyone.”

Rental assistance scam

According to Deborah Royster, assistant director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, rental assistance scams are also worth watching out for. The AARP reported that over 583,000 older adults were behind on their rent in the middle of last year, making them prime targets for rental assistance scammers.

The scammers will attempt to impersonate government or nonprofit employees in an attempt to pry personal information, as well as money, from potential rental assistance applicants. To stay safe, only apply to legitimate rental assistance programs through the proper channels.

Employer imposter scam

If you post your resume on job websites such as Indeed or Career Builder, then you are at risk of falling prey to business-imposter scams. Pretending to be recruiters searching for new job applicants, scammers will reach out to their victims after finding information about them on their online resumes.

Their goal is to persuade their victims into sending them money for fraudulent office set ups or other fake fees, the AARP explained. If you get a job offer, call the company’s HR department to confirm that the offer is real before responding to any messages.

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Amazon scam

Amazon is enormously popular with consumer, which means it’s also popular with scammers. It’s important to always be vigilant when you receive a message from Amazon — according to AARP, older adults are four times more likely to lose money in Amazon related scams.

In order to stay safe from scammers that are claiming they are Amazon employees, ignore any messages concerning suspicious account activity on your Amazon account. If you believe something is suspicious, contact Amazon customer service instead.

Cryptocurrency scam

Pretending to be a variety of government officials, scammers will contact their victims and demand that they pay a fee or bill. To pay the fake fee, the scammers will ask their victims to send them cryptocurrency; this is a red flag.

Government officials will never ask you to pay anything with cryptocurrency, so ignore these requests.

Tax scam

Scammers are impersonating local tax collectors and municipal law enforcement. Don’t fall for it.

They may call or email you and ask to share personal information or settle a tax debt by sending them money. Tax agencies, however, communicate only by mail and will never threaten to call the police.

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Gift card scam

Scammers are not just impersonating government officials and corporate representatives. They’re also impersonating family members and friends to trick victims out of their money, which is why one of the most personal ways scammers trick their victims is through fraudulent favors.

Claiming to be an acquaintance, scammers will pretend that they are struggling to buy a gift card for someone’s birthday present. To remedy the situation, they will ask their victims to buy the card for them and then read the card’s information back to them.

Once they have that information, there is no way to get that gift card money back. To stay safe, contact your family member or friend to confirm it is really them before participating in any transactions.

Money app scam

While gift cards are a common way scammers ask for payments, the fraudulent use of money-transfer apps is on the rise.

Only make payments to your friends and family, the AARP said. Scammers will ask their victims to pay them through Venmo, Zelle and other apps for a quick payout. But you should never pay strangers through these services.

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