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VOL. 43 | NO. 31 | Friday, August 2, 2019

Don't be duped by these phone and email scams

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Some of us in the personal finance realm have a weird little hobby: We try to scam the scam artists.

We’re not out to steal their money just their time. When fraudsters call to say we’re about to be arrested for tax debt, our Social Security number has been “suspended,” or a loved one is in trouble, we play along.

This gives us valuable insight into how the scams operate while wasting the time these jerks could spend victimizing more vulnerable people.

We have our work cut out for us. Government-imposter frauds have scammed people out of at least $450 million since 2014, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Interestingly, people ages 20 to 59 are more likely to report being defrauded this way than those 60 and over, but older people tend to lose more money. The median individual reported loss was $960, but it was $2,700 for people 80 and older, the FTC said in a July report.

You don’t have to engage with the bad guys to help thwart them. Answering the phone when scam artists call can put you on a “sucker list” that will prompt more calls.

But you can sign up for free “watchdog alerts” from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, report scam attempts to the FTC and warn loved ones about the latest schemes, such as these three.

Government imposters

Fraudsters are nothing if not flexible. As media coverage of IRS-imposter calls increased last year, scammers switched to impersonating Social Security investigators. The crooks often use software to spoof caller ID services into showing phone numbers for the Social Security Admi

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0