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Mar 11, 2024

The Government is Calling? Think Again!

Sponsored Content provided by Rosalie Calarco - Associate State Director, Coastal Region, AARP

Unfortunately, scams and fraud are still on the rise. Last year was yet another historic year for fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission released its annual compendium of fraud reports from 2023, and the news is shocking. For the first time ever reported theft through fraud topped $10 billion. The total is 14% higher than what was reported in 2022 and 5 times greater than reported losses in 2019.  Key takeaways from the report include:
 
More money, $4.6 billion, was stolen through investment scams than any other type of fraud. Many of the investment scams were tied to cryptocurrency where consumers reported $1.4 billion stolen. The most frequently reported scams were impostor scams, where the criminal pretends to be a person, company or government agency that you trust. The average victim of an impostor scam had a staggering $7,000 stolen from them, according to the report. Lastly, the most popular method for criminals to reach their victims in 2023 was email, surpassing text messages and phone calls which led in previous years.
 
While all these numbers are eye opening the sad reality is that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg because the vast majority of fraud goes unreported.
 
Social Security most popular government impersonator scam
The most popular ways for criminals are stealing money and sensitive information is by impersonating a trusted source – often a government agency. According to the Federal Trade Commission, victims of government impostor scams reported nearly $509 million stolen from them in 2022. 

Beware of unexpected calls, texts or emails claiming there is a problem with your Social Security number. One example is a warning that your number has been linked to criminal activity and suspended. The goal of the scammer is to get you in a heightened emotional state, and this is one common way they do that. Second, the Social Security Administration will only call you if you are already engaged in conversations with the agency. Finally, you can access your account securely at ssa.gov/myaccount.  This will give you a safe and reliable place to check on your account if you ever have questions.

Be a fraud fighter!  If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
 
Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

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