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AARP Fraud Watch — Updated
     How Cyber Secure Are You?
     3 Things to Protect Your Information from Scammers
FREE Credit Freezes
     7 Scams Reported on Fraud Watch Network — New
Beware: 8 Red-Hot Frauds — New
$1 Billion Lost to Cryptocurrency Scams — New
Criminals Target Medicare Benefits New
How to Stop Cybercriminals in Their Tracks New
Tech Support Scams

Amazon Reimburses Victim of Tech-Support Scam — New

     AARP Fraud Watch Network
          Sign Up for Watchdog Alerts

How Cyber Secure Are You?

Here are some tips to help you stay cyber secure:

  1. Make sure your passwords are strong. Don't just stick to the minimum requirements. Passwords should be unique to you, but at the same time, easy to remember. In fact, instead of a password, consider creating a passphrase. Make it something unique to you and easy to remember. For example, if you’re a cake lover, your passphrase could be Ilovechocolatecake. Like to golf? How about Golfismyfavoritesport. Think of something that would be easy for you to remember, but hard for a thief to crack. And make sure you use a unique password for each and every website that you use. That way a data breach on one site doesn’t put you at risk on others. An alternative is to use a password manager (Google "password manager" for options), through which a tool creates and stores your passwords for you.
  2. Think before you connect. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot — such as those in an airport, hotel, train/bus station, or café — be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. Many fake networks have seemingly legitimate names.
  3. Never conduct sensitive activities in public. This type of work can include online shopping, banking, or other sensitive financial and personal work. Never conduct these activities using a public wireless network or a public computer, even if the network appears secure.
  4. Enable stronger authentication. Stronger authentication (also known as two-factor or multi-factor authentication) adds an extra layer of security beyond using a password to access your accounts. An example of this would be, when you try to log on to your account using your bank’s mobile app, they may send you a text message with a code to verify it is really you. Most major e-mail, social media, and financial platforms offer multi-factor authentication to their users. If you are going to be traveling, be sure to ask your service provider if you can activate this feature before departing on your trip. To learn more, visit Lock Down Your Login.
  5. Turn off your Bluetooth when not in use. Bluetooth enables your device to connect to other devices — for example, it’s what allows you to operate your smart phone hands-free while you are in the car. When it’s on, it can open you up to vulnerabilities.
  6. Keep your software updated. Keep your operating system and other software strong by installing updates to improve your device’s ability to defend against malicious software, also known as ‘malware’. Don’t ignore the prompts to update your operating system. Often times, those updates specifically address a known vulnerability and will offer added protection from it.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.


Kathy Stokes
Fraud Watch Network

3 Things To Protect Your Information From Scammers

Special alert! Data breaches are now so commonplace that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. But even if your personal information is out there, you can protect your identity with these simple but important steps.

Rethink Your Passwords:

Use unique passwords for each of your online accounts. That way, if one account is hacked, it doesn’t put your other accounts at risk. A good way to manage all of those different passwords is to use a digital password manager. These services can help keep all your passwords secure and help you create strong passwords for each of your online accounts.

Set Up Digital Access to Your Financial Accounts:

Scammers can easily use your personal data to open up accounts in your name — making it difficult to recover your accounts and hard-earned money. It’s important to set up online access to all of your financial accounts — bank accounts, credit cards, 401(k)s, etc. That way you can regularly monitor the accounts so you can stay up-to-date on all transactions and quickly spot and report any fraudulent activity.

Freeze Your Credit:

Put a security freeze in place with each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. That way no one can access your credit file or open a new credit account with your information. Traditionally there has been a fee for freezing (and unfreezing) your credit, but thanks to legislation passed by Congress in May 2018, the process will now be free as of September 21st.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.


Kathy Stokes
Fraud Watch Network

New Law Makes Credit Freezes Free

The battle to protect your identity is getting a little easier — or at least cheaper. A new law goes into effect September 21st, 2018 that will make it free to lock your credit file by freezing it with the three major credit rating companies.

In the past, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion have charged fees to freeze your credit reports to help protect against fraud. In states that have not already outlawed the fees, the freezes had cost from $2 to $10, and you needed to pay it to each credit-rating agency separately. You also had to pay to unfreeze and refreeze your credit reports.

How It Works:

  • A credit freeze locks your credit file, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. You will get a PIN to use so you can unfreeze your account to apply for new credit, and then freeze it again.
  • Alternatively, you can place a "fraud alert" on your reports that will require any business that runs your credit to contact you before opening a new account. These alerts used to last 90 days, but the new law extends them to one year.

What You Should Know:

  • A credit freeze is an important tool to deter scammers from opening future accounts in your name, but it doesn’t stop thieves from getting into your current financial accounts and wreaking havoc.
  • To keep close tabs on banking, credit and other financial accounts, set up online access (on the Internet or through the institution’s app if you have a smart phone) to monitor your accounts regularly.

What You Should Do:

  • Follow the steps here (click on link for steps to follow) to freeze your credit and the credit of each adult in your household. If you have children under the age of 16, consider freezing their credit, too, until they are old enough to use credit.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.


Kathy Stokes
Fraud Watch Network

Tech Support Scams

We’ve talked about them before, but tech support scams are still going strong. Since May 2014, Microsoft has heard from more than 65,000 customers about fraudulent tech support cons. And it’s one of the top scams we hear about through the Fraud Watch Network scam-tracking map. Enter your zip code to see user-reported scams in our area. scroll down to see the report dates and type of scam reported.

How It Works

They call and claim to work for well-known companies like Microsoft, Norton or McAfee. They say your computer is infected with malware and then ask for remote access, or money, so they can "fix" it. Or they place ads in online search engines to trick you into calling them.

What can you do to avoid tech support scams?

  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. 
  • Never provide your credit card information, financial information, or passwords to someone who claims to be from "tech support".
  • Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the "service." If there is, hang up.
  • If possible, take the caller's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of technical support scam, please contact:

AARP Fraud Watch Network

The AARP Fraud Watch Network connects you to the latest information about ID theft and fraud so you can safeguard your personal information and your pocketbook. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts, which are free to everyone.

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