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Important Tips for Spotting a Scam

Contributed by: Tanaziona Lucious

In 2022 it was reported that Americans lost of $1.2 billion through fraud -- the highest ever reported, with a median loss of $1,400 per household. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important to know how to easily spot a scam, saving you and your family from being potential victims.

Everyone is susceptible to being scammed, but there are ways to protect yourself and your family. A scammer could do one of the following:

  • Impersonate someone you may know

  • Offer you a conditioned prize or problem

  • Persuade you to act immediately

  • Ask you to pay in a specific way

The first thing a scammer might do is pretend to be someone you know. They

can claim to be from some government agency like the IRS or the Social Security Administration, or even your bank. They may say they are calling on behalf of

a friend or relative.

Sometimes they offer a conditioned prize or problem. For instance, they could say that

you’ve won a prize that seems too good to be true such as a cruise or vacation, but you must pay a fee to receive it. They will want you to act immediately, so they may say something to make you act before thinking such as:

  • your computer has a virus

  • someone you know it in trouble and its urgent that you help them

  • they may claim to take legal action against you, freeze your account, or arrest you if you don't comply

They will also ask you to pay in a specific way, such as wiring the money through a certain payment app, or a gift card. Scammers have been also known to send a check, ask to deposit then send them the money.

Here are a few tips to protect you and your family from possibly getting scammed.

Block: You can filter your email to the spam folder and be sure to block unwanted


Resist: Don’t be pressured or threatened into giving your personal information or

money. The best thing to do is hang up the phone.

Reuse: Even if recognize the business, don’t give out your financial information or

personal information to anyone who contacts you.

Pause: if they say, “you must act now”, think would a legitimate company say that,

and if you feel like something is off then you are most likely correct

Validate: Don’t click any links in text messages and emails or call the numbers that

they give you, instead visit the company website and use the contact information from


Talk: you can always talk to someone you may know and provide them with a

heads up or even share your experience with others to help prevent more scams

in the future.

Technology will only get more advanced, so it is important that we stay aware and protect ourselves and others from getting scammed.

If you think you have been a victim of a scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. The toll-free service is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Or visit them at:

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