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AARP Fraud Watch
     Summer is the Season for
Home Repair
Even the Fraud-savvy Can Be Victims of Credit Card Scam
     Scammers Targeting Medicare

     Scammers Are Going After Your Social Security
Tech Support Scams

AARP Fraud Watch Network
     Sign Up for Watchdog Alerts

Summer is Season for Home Repair Scams

The summer months are prime time for home repair scams. The general ruse involves someone coming to your door and offering to do work on your home, typically at a big discount.  While not all door-to-door offers are scams, some are.  Do your research if an offer seems too good to be true.  We’ve heard from victims who’ve lost thousands of dollars to unscrupulous contractors and outright scammers.

How it Works

A con artist representing himself as a contractor comes to your door and claims he has just finished a job for a neighbor. Since he’s in the neighborhood, he’ll say, you can get work done at a steep discount. While that’s a common sales tactic, it can also be a sign of a scam.  Scammers will demand payment upfront, and then disappear. Or they’ll do the work but it will be shoddy.  Or they will demand more money to finish the job.

What You Should Know
  • Be wary of anyone who comes to your door and offers to fix a problem.
  • The con artist will try to pressure you into making a decision quickly.
  • He or she will likely ask you to pay for the work upfront.
What You Should Do:
  • Get a written estimate and compare bids before starting any work.
  • Ask a contractor for three references – and check them.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints before you hire a contractor.
  • Make sure you have a written contract before work starts.

Be careful if you choose to work with contractors who contact you.  When you do need to get work done, ask friends, neighbors and relatives for recommendations. Most importantly, never pay a thing until you have a written contract in hand.

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 

Even the Fraud-savvy Can Be Victims of Credit Card Scam

When a person is victimized by a scam, the victim is often portrayed as "falling for" something. This misses the part of the story of how skilled these criminals are at moving us to an emotional state, where our logical thinking takes a backseat. It also neglects how sophisticated many of these scams are. 

A fraud-savvy colleague and friend of mine recently became a victim of a credit card scam. Here’s how it played out.

How It Works:

You’re told you’ve won a prize but:

  • A scammer got hold of my friend’s credit card number and placed a seemingly legitimate charge on her bill. In my friend’s case, it was a charge for credit monitoring services in the name of one of the major credit bureaus.
  • Seeing red, my friend called the 800 number listed on the charge.
  • It was when she was in the process of "verifying" her personal information that she realized it was fraud.

What You Should Know:

  • Scammers are sophisticated – they know how to move us away from logic and into a heightened emotional state. When we are emotional, we risk making decisions without taking time to think things through.
  • If you’re confronted with something upsetting, take a deep breath and pause before you take an action.

What You Should Do:

  • If you see a suspicious charge on your credit card statement, call the number on the back of your card and not the number next to the suspicious charge — that number could be a direct line to the scammer.
  • If you end up sharing personal information that a criminal could use to open credit accounts or take out loans in your name, contact each credit bureau and request a credit freeze. A new federal law that President Trump recently signed will make credit freezes free to place, lift and permanently remove. Learn more about placing a credit freeze at, under Protect Your Identity

A sophisticated scammer targeted my friend. She’s not to blame — in fact, she gets kudos for protecting herself with credit freezes and for sharing her story.

As we always say, 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

Scammers Target Medicare Beneficiaries

A law passed in 2015 requires Medicare to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Beneficiaries will begin to receive their new cards in May, and the rollout will continue into 2019. This is a good move, since Social Security numbers are the key to identity theft, and having them displayed on Medicare cards has long presented risk. Unfortunately, scammers have come up with ways to take advantage of this change.

How It Works:

  • Scammers claiming to be from Medicare call and ask you to verify your Social Security number in order to receive your new card.
  • Scammers call to collect a “processing fee” in order for you to receive your new Medicare card.

What You Should Know:

  • Medicare will NEVER ask beneficiaries to confirm their Social Security number or ask for money in order to receive the new Medicare card.

What You Should Do:

  • If you receive a call like this, hang up and report it to Medicare at 1-800-633-4427.
  • If your address has changed, you’ll need to report it in order to receive your new card. Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or  

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

P.S. Spotted a scam?  Tell us about it.  Our scam-tracking map gives you information about the latest scams targeting people in your state.  You’ll also find first-hand accounts from scam-spotters who are sharing their experiences so you know how to protect yourself and your family.

Scammers Are Going After Your Social Security Benefits

Scammers are now going to the Social Security Administration website and setting up “my Social Security” accounts of workers that are of retirement age in an attempt to steal their retirement benefits. People age 62 and older face the highest risk of this scam.

How It Works:

  • Scammers get a hold of personal information, including Social Security numbers, and head to to open a “my Social Security” account in victims’ names.
  • They apply for funds, requesting a lump sum payout for any amount due to the victim, and direct the automatic deposit to their own bank account.
  • The scammer then withdraws the stolen funds and closes out the bank account, then transfers the funds to gift cards (so they can’t be tracked).

What You Should Know:

  • Only one “my Social Security” account is permitted for each Social Security number, so signing up early is key.
  • While it’s important to set up your account before a scammer can, it’s also a useful resource. Through it, you can view your estimated benefits (retirement, disability, and family benefits), review your earnings record and order replacement documents.

What You Should Do:

  • If you are a victim of this scam, you will probably have to visit your local Social Security Administration office to resolve it. You can find contact information at

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.


Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network

Tech Support Scams

techsupporttwt (2).pngWe’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.

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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