With nine-in-ten U.S. adults online these days for work, finances, shopping or entertainment, criminals have many opportunities to steal money or sensitive personal information. When you factor in the many devices in our homes linked to the internet – computers, gaming systems, TVs, smartphones – the opportunities grow.
To keep your home network safe from criminals, follow these three home security rules:
1. Keep the operating systems, web browsers and security software on all of your connected devices updated.
2. If your internet router has the same name and password it came with, change both.
3. Engage your firewall – your operating system or antivirus software should come with a firewall that guards your system from uninvited sources; make sure yours is turned on.
Beware when using Facebook Marketplace
Are you still looking for those last minute holiday deals? One place people are turning to is Facebook Marketplace, but beware because scammers are lurking. The spike in online shopping has unfortunately lead many victims right to the criminals who offer deals too good to pass up.
This fall, the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline has received a high volume of calls from people losing money to scams on Facebook Marketplace. Here are some tips to avoid online sales scams:
1. Before making that purchase research what similar items are selling for elsewhere, the greater the deal the greater the likelihood that it could be a scam.
2. Buy local versus having something shipped, and arrange to meet in a public space.
3. Pay cash – if asked to pay by a payment app, wire transfer or gift card, refuse. Finally, if you need to get an item shipped, use a credit card which has fraud protections.
Watch out for Gift Card Scams
According to a recent AARP survey, more than 2/3 of US consumers will purchase a gift card for someone this holiday season. While these gifts are easy to give and popular to get, they are also open to fraud. The same survey found that one in three people have either given or received a gift card with no funds on it.
Remember these tips whenever buying gift cards:
1. If buying from a store rack, inspect the card before purchase to make sure that the packaging hasn’t been tampered with and that the code hasn’t been revealed.
2. Better yet, buy gift cards online directly from the retailer, restaurant or other issuer.
3. Be wary of buying from gift card resellers – if you do, make sure they offer a guarantee.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
Visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360 to report a scam or get help if you’ve fallen victim.
Suzanne LaFollette-Black has been a gerontologist for the past 35+ years. She is the AARP NC Associate State Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach. Suzanne’s career has been in the aging network as a non-profit nursing home administrator, Area Agency on Aging Director, Executive Director of Moore County Department of Aging. Suzanne is originally from Window Rock, Arizona (Navajo Indian reservation). Suzanne has a BS in Sociology and minor in Zoology/ Music from NAU and graduate studies at USC Ethel Andrus Percy Gerontology program and MASA from University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. She served as the NCAOA (NC Association on Aging, Inc.) President from 2018-2020; Rotary; NCIOM Deaf and Hearing committee; Governor’s Highway Safety Executive Committee; and other community organizations.
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