This article was contributed by AARP North Carolina Director, Michael Olender.
Last-minute travelers beware
If you’re trying to squeeze in a summer trip before Labor Day, it’s buyer beware when hunting for that last-minute deal. Great travel deals can be found online but you can also find scammers looking to put your travel dollars into their pockets.
Crooks set up look-alike travel websites in hopes you will book with them rather than your intended company. And just because the link showed up when you searched “travel deals” doesn’t mean it can automatically be trusted. Scammers often buy paid promotions for their bogus travel sites so they appear high up in search rankings.
Before hitting ‘confirm’ on that deal, make sure you really know who you are doing business with. Be skeptical of any cut-rate hotel or airline offer that seems too good to be true. And, always pay with a credit card, which offers more protection than other forms of payment.
Do your research before buying a warranty
Despite industry and regulatory efforts to rid our phone lines of unwanted robocalls, they nevertheless persist – and many are outright scams. One of the more common scam calls involves car warranties.
These scam calls typically start as a pre-recorded robocall (just like this one we pulled from the Federal Communications Commission’s website), and the message directs you to press a key to speak to a specialist or stay on the line. Thanks to social media and data breaches, scammers may even have information on your car’s make and model to make it seem legitimate.
While extended warranties might be a sensible investment for some, it’s a product that you should research rather than react to, and only with verified and trustworthy sources.
Watch out for “hot” offers
Social media is an all-too-popular avenue for spreading scams among “friends.” Criminals hijack someone’s social media account and share a “great offer” to everyone on the target’s contact list.
The hot ‘offer’ these days involves government grants – whether it’s free money for college tuition or loan repayment, to pay household bills, or some other made-up story. But here’s the thing (actually, two things). First, the government grants billions of dollars a year – but to institutions, not to individuals. Second, you’ll learn there’s a “processing fee” that you have to pay upfront. When you hear that, all signs point to a likely scam.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource for all. Learn how to proactively spot scams or get guidance if you’ve been targeted. Visit www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call our dedicated helpline to speak to a fraud specialist at 1-877-908-3360.
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